Victor Ehihkamenor, a visual artist, writer, and photographer, says the marketability of Nigerian art is improving but it can be better if there are more collectors.
Ehihkamenor says more Nigerians have to develop an interest in collecting artworks like painting, sculpting, among others.
The creative spoke with TheCable Lifestyle on the sidelines of French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the New Afrika Shrine in Lagos.
He said the patronage of art in Nigeria “is improving” but “I think we have to have more people interested in collecting”.
He added: “It is not the same way that you market hip-hop artists, photography that you market art.
“It is a different kind of marketing that needs to be brought into the system but I can say that is improving. We are having more galleries, more curators, more people.”
Ehihkamenor recently opened an artist residency called ‘Angels & Muse’ in Ikoyi, Lagos.
The artist said he embarked on the project to “show government” and other stakeholders “that things like that can exist and hopefully, they (will) key into it and provide spaces like that for younger artists and even the creative people, to come together and have conversations”.
He said: “I want the art market to thrive. I want people to be able to talk about their work. I want them to not have that restriction of not having a place to have those conversations.
“Even if it is book reading, workshops or if there’s a curator in town that wants to have like an ecosystem for artists.”
In 2017, Ehikhamenor made headlines for calling out Damien Hirst, a British artist, for appropriating Nigerian art.
Hirst’s work, titled Golden Heads, bore a close resemblance to Ori Olokun, an ancient sculpture which originated from Ile-Ife, Osun state.
“For the thousands of viewers seeing this for the first time, they won’t think Ife, they won’t think Nigeria,” Ehikhamenor had written on Instagram.
“Their young ones will grow up to know this work as Damien Hirst’s. As time passes it will pass for a Damien Hirst regardless of his small print caption.
“The narrative will shift and the young Ife or Nigerian contemporary artist will someday be told by a long nose critic “Your work reminds me of Damien Hirst’s Golden Head.” We need more biographers for our forgotten.”
Ehikhmenor is one of Africa’s most innovative contemporary artists. He was one of four artists chosen to exhibit as part of the first Nigerian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.