If you had to think of the top art cities in the world then I’d bet money that Paris, London and New York make your list. I’m not sure any one would put Lagos up there, but in time this could change. Art in Lagos is literally everywhere, whether it be the boy on the street doing hyper-realistic portraits with nothing but a ball point pen or an old carpenter selling his wares; you can’t escape art in West Africa’s biggest city. We’re finally beginning to tell our story and the international community is starting to take notice. For proof look no further than Art X Lagos; the premiere African art festival showcasing art from the continent and diaspora.
While we were in Lekki for a wedding we decided to check out the nearby Arts & Craft market and Nike Art gallery to get a small glimpse of what the Lagos art scene had to offer.
This is heaven for a tourist, except for the fact that it’s really difficult to find unless you know somebody. Definitely get an uber or hire a GOOD driver. Everything here is handmade and representative of Nigerian culture. If you want local jewelry you’ll find some great pieces. If you’re looking for baskets, place mats, bags, hats and more you’ll find them here as well. Need a gorgeous painting for your room, you’ll get one here too. The artists at the market are seriously talented. Only thing to be wary of is pricing, you’ll definitely have to use all your haggling skills to get the best prices.
If the Lekki market is too gra-gra for your tastes then the Nike art gallery also in Lekki will be a great change of pace. The space differs from a typical western art gallery in that almost every square inch of the place is stocked with beautiful art work. The work is mostly upscale Afrocentric which really captivated me. A rich oligarch would come here to find that next priceless peace to add to his or her personal collection. Everything looked so expensive, we didn’t even look at the prices.
With that being said, the piece that seems to capture one’s imagination is the crocodile made from old car tires. This crocodile sums up Lagos and Nigeria as a whole more than any other piece (on an instagram at least). Nigerians have long been known to make wonders from very little and create masterpieces from the unlikeliest of resources.
Other notable art centers in Lagos we couldn’t go to:
Terrakulture. Terrakulture has a gallery showcasing the best in African paintings and photography which differentiates it from other locations. The venue also has a 400 seater event center that has hosted concerts, fashion shows and theatre productions.
Rele Art Gallery: For westerners, this gallery may feel more like what you’re used to. The layout may be western but the art is indeed African. The pieces here are created predominantly by young artists and the exhibitions cater to young professionals more so as well. We couldn’t stop by on this trip but next time we’re definitely going to take this place in. After all, if you’re covered by the LA Times and Vogue Magazine then you must be doing something right.
So that’s it from us. Of course there’s so much more to Lagos’ booming art scene than what we could showcase here. We’ll save those for our next trip out. In the mean time, have a look at our Lagos vlog and see what else we got up to in Nigeria’s biggest city.