Saturday, 31 July 2010

Jide Alakija | Nigerian High Society

Jide has been working on a series of Society Photographs with wedding photography, dinner parties, cocktail parties and is the first Nigerian Society Photographer.

His portfolio is an extensive viewpoint of the important Nigerian individuals and families inside and outside of the country. Jide will be travelling to Lagos in the Fall to photograph the numerous High Society families in Nigeria in a photographic project entitled: "Nigerian High Society", which will be a coffee-table book to be published in early 2011.


If interested in Jide Alakija photographic project in the fall | "Nigerian High Society"
 then contact his representative before the end of August beginning of September 2010:

Ayo Adeyinka | Tafeta & Partners
10 Vanburgh Park Road,
t: +44 (0)7811 435 626

Jide Alakija | Portraits

To commision a Jide Alakija Portrait contact his representative:

Ayo Adeyinka
Tafeta & Partners
10 Vanburgh Park Road,
t: +44 (0)7811 435 626

Jide Alakija | Lighting the Dark


Here is an interesting series of group and portrait photography playing with the different shades
of light.

Jide is presently working of a photographic book. The book will include the different digital techniques used in creating these series of images with limited light such as candle-light and torches. Some of the images were taken in a cinema or theatre setting giving limited light. He is also planning on using neon and coloured lights; introducing some sparks of colour to the dark spaces and backgrounds. His printing techniques are at the forefront of photography and his digital images are equal to the tradition black and white silver gelatin prints.

To commision a Jide Alakija Portrait contact his representative:

Ayo Adeyinka
Tafeta & Partners
10 Vanburgh Park Road,
t: +44 (0)7811 435 626

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Tribute to Nejib Belkhodja | 2007

Death of Integrity of a New Nation

This is merely a whisper being sent out to the world about the genius of the late, Néjib Belkhodja. He lived amongst us for seventy-four years and consumed life and lived like so few. He had integrity, something that is lacking in the world today. He set such high standards for himself and others around him. He was the man to teach the world about the power of art and the way in which we should conduct ourselves in life. It is difficult to put into words the importance of this man. He lived an outspoken existence with courage and conviction. The word Prophet is a word that best describes the giant that is, Néjib Belkhodja. During his lifetime he was a Nation-builder and a world guide. He was often ignored and marginalized yet still he bore the troubles of his Independent Nation on his shoulders. His work is so important, to see it and understand it will change the way you see yourself and all that is around you.

Throughout his life the Leaders were fully aware of the power of Belkhodja; a man who would not be broken by the State or who could not be used as a political toy. He suffered enormously throughout his life, humiliated and disregarded by the Nation. On the 16th June 2007 in the Medina in Tunis I heard such pitiful tributes to a man of such stature who, at the end was honoured by hypocrites. He died virtually penniless. His work is jailed in Banks and Five Star Hotels around his native country of Tunisia. You wont see the work of Belkhodja in any Museum around the world. No. His work is too powerful to be released by his jailers. He sheds light on all the World Leaders. He opens our minds to what is the function and meaning of Art. His work develops Nations and his contribution to the world is beyond compare. His departure from this world has come at just the right time; when the world needs him most. Here is a man, who belongs to us all and in his lifetime has shown us the meaning of generosity. His work introduces us to poets and architecture, to calligraphers and musicians. The subtly within the work is breathtaking and he puts into place the order in which art should be seen, heard and spoken.

Born in 1933 his mother was Dutch and his father Tunisian. He grew up in the Medina in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, North Africa. For those that don't know what the Medina is, it is the heartbeat of the city, where all the aristocracy resides. It is a walled city within a city, with narrow streets as arteries and huge colourful studded doors, which break up the continuity of the whitewashed wall. The Medina has it's own language, it own specific architecture. The Medina is the untouchable heart of North Africa. The reason Belkhodja chooses to focus his work on the importance of the Medina is that it is the heart of life. It is beyond the control of modern dictatorship. So his work is about the spiritual heartland of the World. The significance of the Medina in Belkhodja's work is constant. For nearly forty years he focused his whole artistic life around the idea of the Medina and his work reads like a biblical message to us all. His work is invincible and belongs to us all; to cage it would be a travesty of justice. I would like the World to stop for just 2 minutes to Honour the Life of Néjib Belkhodja | 1933 – 2007.

Here is a tribute to his beautiful wife, Najet Belkhodja. Without her love and support we would never of had the Nejib that we see today. We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Dr. Tom Flynn & Contemporary African Art Market

Recently, I have found an amazing blog written by Dr. Tom Flynn, who is writing with authority and clarity. He has written about the African art market and really stated the situation as it stands today.

If you are interested in Contemporary African Art or art generally, Dr Tom Flynn is really making real sense:

Tom Flynn's Blog:

Here is the article I was specifically interested in about the recent sales by the auctioneers: Phillips de Pury and Bonhams in NYC, earlier this year.

African Art Fails to Quicken Pulses in New York:

There's nothing an auctioneer hates more than presiding over a room full of bidders who aren't bidding. This is a relatively rare occurrence during a bull market, but since the recession kicked in the job of the up-market fine art auctioneer has often been reduced to that of a well-dressed dentist pulling teeth. 

This was made dramatically clear in the recent BBC 4 documentary, 'The Man with the Golden Gavel' — a profile of Phillips de Pury & Co's chief auctioneer Simon de Pury. 

The documentary began with Monsieur de Pury swaggering through the champagne-soaked boom years during which his rostrum manner approached a kind of performance art as he worked up a heroic sweat, coaxing millions of extra dollars from super-rich bidders hooked on the crystal meth of contemporary art. Those were the days when an auctioneer like de Pury could swing from the chandeliers, working the room like Tarzan.

Then the shit hit the fan and in a matter of just a few months Simon and his ilk found themselves staring at a room full of sphinxes sitting on their hands. The rostrum braggadocio was suddenly replaced by a sheepish reticence as lot after lot was passed over unsold. 

Quite how long this recessionary state of affairs will last is anyone's guess. All the signs are that we're likely to be stuck with it for a considerable time yet. Meanwhile, auctioneers press on regardless, testing new markets, one of the most stubbornly unresponsive of which is the market for African Modern and Contemporary art.

Bonhams have pioneered this field in recent years, their London salerooms persevering with Stanley-like determination despite the hostile economic environment (see my report on their April 2009 London sale here). 

They say that if you throw enough mud at a wall, eventually some it will stick. But this African mud is not like other mud. It just keeps sliding down the wall.

Bonhams had the bright idea of staging their most recent African sale in New York. Perhaps they were thinking the combination of New York money, investors' hunger for The Next Big Thing, and a roots-aware African-American contingent might together provide the thermals this market so badly needs. It didn't work.

The sale at Bonhams' Madison Avenue rooms on March 10 comprised 137 lots, just 56 of which found buyers. Of these, two thirds were hammered down below the low estimate. That's the sound of mud sliding off the wall.

In the event, the sale relied for its highpoints on a number of significant examples of the work of the late Nigerian artist Ben (Benedict Chukwukadibia) Enwonwu (1917-1994), suddenly the most sought-after African painter of his generation.

Enwonwu is the subject of a major new monograph by the African art historian Sylvester Okwonudu Ogbechie (Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist), the publication of which seems to have coincided with an upswing in Enwonwu's stock at auction. If you believe the investment analysts, monographs tend to improve an artist's "equity story". 

Bonhams' last sale in London saw the seminal work in acrylic and watercolour on card, Negritude, establish a new auction record for Enwonwu at £66,000 ($94,596), including premium.

That price seems to have brought a number of other Enwonwu works out of the woodwork, including a similar dance-themed oil on board entitled Africa Dances (Eve Noir) (shown above left) which brought one of the highest prices of the New York sale at $73,200 (£48,325), including premium. Although not directly referencing the eponymous Francophone cultural movement that lent additional lustre to the London painting, the iconography was consistent with that picture and clearly placed it in a similar category of appeal.

Later in the sale, another Enwonwu oil,Fishermen, sold within estimate at $67,100 (£44,296), and shortly after that, Dancing Boys (right), depicting young men moving with Dionysian abandon through a swirling mist of colour, reinforced the buoyant market for Enwonwu's work when it beat an estimate of $80,000-120,000 to fetch $91,500 (61,064), including premium. 

The auction record for Enwonwu remains the $94,596 (£66,000) for Negritude, but the fact that the next four highest prices for the artist at auction were all achieved on Wednesday in New York can be taken as a fair indication of his current standing among collectors. Is someone busy assembling the definitive Ben Enwonwu collection? A Nigerian museum, perhaps?

Without these very positive contributions to the total, the results sheet would have looked a lot more anaemic than it did. Once again a fine wall-based sculpture by the talented young Nigerian-born American sculptor Nnenna Okore (born 1975) failed to get away at an estimate of $35,000-45,000, but a work by her former teacher, the Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui (born 1944), entitled Sculpture I, constructed from camel thorn wood and steel clamps, fetched $27,450, including buyer's premium.

Finally, it was interesting to note that a series of works by the South African artist known as "Beezy" (William James Sebastian) Bailey (born 1962), all deaccessioned by the Ojai Valley Museum in California, were allowed to go at prices very significantly under their estimates ($1000 against a forecast of $7,000, for example). Clearly Bonhams were at fault with their estimates, but why was the Ojai Museum prepared to virtually give these away?

I've emailed the museum for the full story on how they were acquired and why they were deaccessioned and await their response.

It seems clear that African modern art has a long way to go before it becomes the art market's next China, as Bonhams have been predicting. Will things improve as we move out of recession, or is African modernism simply failing to beat a drum with collectors? 

For the moment at least, it seems that not even a "swaggering saleroom superstar" like Simon de Pury could lift this market out of the doldrums.