10 Artists to Discover at ART X Lagos 2021
After last year’s edition took place exclusively online due to COVID-19, the sixth edition of ART X Lagos returns as a hybrid fair with both physical and digital events. The only art fair to be held physically in Africa this year, ART X Lagos will host 30 galleries from 15 countries for its in-person event at the Federal Palace in Lagos’s Victoria Island from November 4th to the 7th; the digital presentation of the fair will be on view through November 21st. Prior to opening day, we connected with participating galleries to get a sense of what they’ll be showing. Below, we highlight 10 artists whose work will be presented across ART X Lagos, as well as on Artsy.
Juwon Aderemi rediscovered drawing and painting while in recovery from an accident that saw the 21-year-old artist isolated in his bedroom for an extended period of time. In his current practice, Aderemi focuses on portraiture that reflects on his Nigerian and Yoruba heritage. The self-taught artist’s introspective figurative works are based on photographs of Nigeria in the 1970s and ’80s, which he infuses with precolonial aesthetics and modern notions of beauty and gender, and serve as a bridge between the past and the present. Aderemi’s work has been featured in a number of exhibitions, including the 2020 group show “Say It Loud” at Christie’s in New York, curated by Destinee Ross-Sutton.
Browse Juwon Aderemi’s work at ART X Lagos.
SMO Contemporary Art
Johnson Eziefula’s mixed-media works are studies on the concept of Westernization. The textural works, which combine acrylic, pastel, fabric, and charcoal, depict Eziefula’s friends and family as they embrace the fashion and culture of Western regions. This can be seen in Tomi & the scarf of many colors (2021), for instance, in which the subject wears translucent pink glasses and a graphic headscarf, gazing directly at the viewer. These alluring works are being featured at ART X Lagos with SMO Contemporary Art, alongside other canvases that show the effects of cultural hybridization.
Browse Johnson Eziefula’s work at ART X Lagos.
British artist Miranda Forrester’s lush figurative paintings question the lack of representation of womxn of color in art history in relation to the trope of men painting women in the nude. The artist’s works capture the intimate spaces of queer womxn, revealing their domestic environments through drooping plants and personal moments shared between sitters. To create her delicate works, Forrester extends plastic over stretchers and then applies paint over the smooth surface, resulting in elegant, semi-transparent compositions. Last year, Forrester held her first solo exhibition at London’s Guts Gallery.
Browse Miranda Forrester’s work at ART X Lagos.
A member of the International Academy of Ceramics, King Houndekpinkou infuses his otherworldly ceramic work with elements of ancient pottery, anime, and video games. The French Beninese artist pairs the playfulness of Japanese pop culture with traditional Beninese ritual vessels. The vibrantly colored sculptures, blended with clay from countries he’s traveled to, have cracked surfaces and are affixed with spikes. For Houndekpinkou, the medium has become an investigation into identity. Houndekpinkou is also the founder of Terres Jumelles (“Twin Soils” in English), a cultural program he created in 2016 that works to unite Benin and Japan through the practice of traditional and contemporary ceramics.
Browse King Houndekpinkou’s work at ART X Lagos.
Loft Art Gallery
Mous Lamrabat’s joyous photographs exist in an imagined world the artist refers to as “Mousganistan.” Born in Morocco and raised in Belgium, Lamrabat creates work that reflects on his upbringing: He interlaces Western iconography with motifs from Moroccan and Islamic culture. In the world of “Mousganistan,” the golden arches of the McDonald’s logo are reimagined as henna and a Chicago Bulls jersey is transformed into a niqab. The photographer, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent, has garnered acclaim in recent years for captivating images. In 2020, Lamrabat shot a beauty campaign for the French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent.
Browse Mous Lamrabat’s work at ART X Lagos.
Ed Cross Fine Art
In Sahara Longe’s paintings, figures lounge in the nude and share quotidien moments, oftentimes gazing past the viewer. Painted in a flat, soft-edged style, the oil-based portraits reexamine work by Old Masters as the artist chooses to swap in Black bodies in place of the models who historically dominated the period. Drawing inspiration from Peter Paul Rubens and Diego Velázquez, Longe continues her experiment of conjuring new visual hierarchies in each of her delicate still lifes. This past October, Longe’s work was featured in the group exhibition “Bold Black British,” curated by Aindrea Emelife, at Christie’s in London, as well as Artsy and W1 Curates’s public art exhibition “Young Black British Artists from London Galleries.”
Browse Sahara Longe’s work at ART X Lagos.
Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien
Galerie Cécile Fakhoury
Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien creates intricately woven textiles that nod to the practices of the matriarchal Akan society of Côte d’Ivoire—a group that crafted weights in order to weigh gold—as well as the visual cultures of the French and Guadeloupean Creoles. A graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy (ENSAPC), the artist seamlessly blends disparate cultural elements in her work in order to represent a range of influences. In her ongoing “Map” series, Manlanbien uses copper, hair, raffia, and scrubbers to generate a physical relationship between the industrial and artisanal materials. The series not only unites the cultural materials, but also traces their diverse histories.
Browse Marie-Claire Messouma Manlanbien’s work at ART X Lagos.
A photographer from the South African city of Pretoria, Lunga Ntila creates self-portraits that engage with themes of identity and spirituality. The images create a layered narrative, achieved through the act of cutting and pasting, that works to understand the world’s different ideologies. For Ntila’s collaging technique, the artist has said that she “borrows” from outside sources that express themes that resonate with her own life. Ntila’s distortive photographs have resonated with audiences far and wide: Last September, the artist created social media content for Victoria Beckham’s eponymous fashion line. And in November 2020, Ntila was commissioned by the design agency Anyways Creative for a project with Sonos to explore her relationship with sound.
Browse Lunga Ntila’s work at ART X Lagos.
Nike Art Gallery
Over the course of five decades, Nike Davies-Okundaye has garnered acclaim for her Nigerian batik textile designs that reflect on Nigerian traditions and the act of preserving the centuries-old dying technique known as adire eleko. The artist’s boldly colored textiles and paintings continuously reference the dying technique and its patterns, which were handed down from mother to daughter. Alongside her textile and painting practice, Davies-Okundaye is the CEO and managing director of the Nike Centre for Art and Culture in Osogbo, where the artist offers free training to young Nigerians to learn traditional arts and crafts.
Browse Nike Davies-Okundaye’s work at ART X Lagos.
Circle Art Gallery
In his work, Donald Wasswa examines transformations, specifically in regard to social interactions among humans in a given environment. The Ugandan artist’s multidisciplinary work is research-based: He uses actual events to inform his conceptual works, which depend on impromptu encounters with natural or found objects. Wasswa transforms these objects into art materials and carves and arranges them into sculptures or three-dimensional drawings and paintings. Based in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala, where he runs Artpunch Studio, the artist also ignites conversations around how technology will influence the future.