Lagos city is a hub of Nigerian commerce and culture. Being host to millions of people from all walks of life, their unique perspectives have evolved the city towards a bright future. But one of the trends which has spawned from this evolution is an increased appreciation for art. Across the city and the state, art galleries have been born to showcase the work of Nigerian artists.
But as the art scene grew in Lagos, another trend made itself known: the veterans and masters of the field are not steering the world of Lagosian art as it grows; rather, it is the new blood that is making itself known. Young artists, when given the opportunity, have shown themselves to be the face of art in Lagos, inspiring new directions for art to grow as an act of self-expression, a way to start needed discussions, and a way to inspire Nigerians.
While there are too many of such artists to count, here are 7 young artists who are working in Lagos city right now.
Bumni Agusto combines the mediums of painting, drawing, and printmaking to explore an almost dream-like surrealistic landscape. She creates this world by blending unorthodox landscapes with hybrid creatures, as well as by fusing humans with her sense of self, memories, and West African aesthetics. Through this mix of different media, she creates art that depicts the world known as “Within” telling the story of the world within her mind, settled by hybrid creatures, and interacting with the memory of humans who have passed through her life.
The unknown and the fear it inspires plays a key part in the art of Tofo Bardi. Through her paintings, she creates uncanny images which hold some resemblance to objects or places which would be familiar to an average West African, but the familiarity is drowned out by the ambiguous. Vaguely human figures dominate her paintings, interacting with each other and the world with a context which can only be imagined based on the title of her pieces.
A practitioner of afrofuturism and neo-nigerian art, Jonathon Chamberlin uses drawings and sketches to create art which is aimed to preserve the memories of times of hardship. He stars as the protagonist of his pieces, portrayed as a futuristic being covered in blue light, often melancholically observing or being the focus of an isolated scene, which emphasises his loneliness, sadness, or trauma that he uses to inspire his pieces.
Playful and experimental, Yadichinma Ukoka – Kalu is an artist who takes the documentation of everyday life and transforms it into artistic pieces across multiple mediums such as painting, photography, film and digital media. The message of her art is unclear even to her, as she has stated she uses her art to reach “for something [she doesn’t] quite have the entire picture of”, but she will continue to make her art, for with each piece her goal continues to manifest.
Seidougha Linus Eyimiegha
Seidougha Linus Eyimiegha has chosen the hard task of both fuelling the Nigerian art industry and inspiring Nigerian artists and art enthusiasts to appreciate the art world from their unique cultural perspective. Nicknaming himself “Mr. Danfo” as an example of what the local culture means to his identity, Linus Eyimiegha exemplifies the culture of Lagos with his pieces, inspired by his childhood memories of growing up in the city.
Art commonly serves as a metaphor or allegory, intending to convey a message through a visual language that can touch the viewer’s core if they allow it. Joseph Abayomi’s art follows this pattern, as all his paintings present evocative portraits of Nigerians, albeit with their visages morphed in strange, inhumane ways. To Joseph, the message of his art becomes clear: environments transform human identities, and he aims to prompt his audience to contemplate this through his art.
Once you have seen Ameh Egwuh’s art, you would be able to spot every one of his pieces. Ameh’s art is immediately recognizable due to his use of lines on the human body. He combines pre-colonial and more modern styles of art to create a surreal yet familiar world filled with color. Through this medium, he has touched upon topics such as daily life, the sadness of death and what one would experience after their passing, making an argument that the afterlife would be the continuation of one’s journey rather than its end. It is clear, that to Ameh Egwuh, art is a way to start a discussion with his audience.
Where You Can Find Art in Lagos
These artists, despite their skill, need opportunities to showcase what they are capable of creating in order for the world to view their work. While some galleries have been willing to showcase their art, they have also been able to display their art during exhibitions, such as the one hosted by Coronation Art Gallery. If you wish to find out more about the event and Coronation’s view on the worth of art, click here.