Artyrama: Giving African art a global platform
Art means many things to many people. To some it may be an investment; to others, it may be decorative, or a form of self or cultural expression. While art may mean different things to different people, there is a consensus about its importance and the fact that it can be enjoyed by everyone irrespective of age, status or cultural background.
Art appreciation and value are one of the main reasons many collectors are passionate about art, and African art is no different. African art dates back thousands of years, with evidence of rock art carvings being preserved from as far back as 6000 years. In more recent times, African art’s influence can be seen across the West and awareness and appreciation of it are growing.
Nigeria, for example, is slowly becoming an art destination for many global collectors. The country is home to a growing number of galleries – Lagos Photo Exhibition, African Arts Foundation and more recently, Art X, which is West Africa’s first international art fair.
According to the 2014 Nigerian Art Market Report, 130 Nigerian artists accounted for 91 per cent of the USD$3.27million bought in and 79 per cent of the 315 lots sold at auctions (Arthouse, Bonhams, TKMG and Sogal) in Lagos and London. Nigerian artists like Njideka Akunyili Crosby, who raked in £2.1 million at Christie’s in March 2017 and Ben Enwonwu’s Anyanwu, which saw similar success when the piece sold for £353,000 at Bonhams, are now getting international acclaim.
Locally, there is a growing recognition for home-based artists like Victor Ehikhamenor, Uthman Wahab, Modupeola Fadugba and Tolu Aliki, with the celebration and predominant display of their works in homes, hotels, high-end stores and offices. In addition to a host of private collections, they also have an international presence and can be seen at various festivals and galleries. This year and, for the first time, Nigeria will have representation at the Biennale in Venice.
While global interest in African art has never been stronger, this interest, however, is not translating to a more mass-market commercial landscape in the way it has across other parts of the world. One of the main reasons for this is lack of access.
Technology is transforming how we access the world, making our banks, stores, utility companies available at the click of a button. It is technological disruptions like these that could solve the access problem that has plagued the African art industry thus far.
It is the answer to many questions, questions like: How one can experience African art irrespective of where it is, or where can a first-time buyer, who may not understand art, go to explore and purchase art? It is these questions that Artyrama, Africa’s premier online art gallery is focused on answering. Contemporary art collections, including paintings, photographs, sculptures and mixed media that document Africa’s rich culture and history, will be digitalized and made available online. Artyrama aims to host curated online art exhibitions and auctions, while also providing advisory services for individuals or organisations, which want to buy and sell authentic African art.
All art works on the platform are from the African continent, emphasising Artyrama’s commitment to promoting the development of art and culture in Africa by giving African art a global platform and access to a wider audience. Artyrama does not intend to replace the brick and mortar experience, but rather to provide an alternative in line with the digital revolution, one that reaches everyone, from the avid collector to the first time buyer and everyone in between, especially with Artyrama’s recently launched online platform, www.artyramaonline.com
•Masha is the General Manager of Artyrama
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