Private sector drives market
Sponsored by Nigeria’s GT Bank, London’s Tate Modern gallery has initiated a curatorial post, the funding of acquisitions and an annual project. As a result, Elvira Dayangani Ose was appointed as Curator of International Art to head an African Art Acquisitions committee, co-chaired by art collector, Robert Devereux, a former partner in the Virgin empire and Richard Branson’s brother-in-law.
Devereux sold some of his collection of British contemporary art at Sotheby’s for £4.7m to fund his African Arts Trust, an educational charity, which acts as a catalyst for growth of arts organisations.
Its focus so far is on Southern and Eastern African, and it has funded initiatives such as the Kuona Trust in Nairobi, and supported the creation of 32o East in Kampala and NAFASI in Tanzania.
The Nairobi Arts Trust /Centre for Contemporary Art of East Africa (CCAEA) is an organisation that is set to serve as an advocate for contemporary art and as a catalyst for the creation of significant art projects.
The main driver of interest and prices to date has been South Africa, which is more engaged with the international community, where prices have increased hugely and some very high prices have been achieved for major artists. The South African market is worth $300m a year and has been reaching record prices with a 300% increase over the last year, though it may be stabilising now, according to the South Africa’s Citadel Art Price Index. According to the index, the art market is off its peak of three years ago though it is 18% higher than it was a year ago. A new Cape Town museum, Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, has opened.
West Africa has a vibrant arts scene and the gallery scene is on the up. In Lagos, Nigeria, among others it includes the Omenka Gallery and the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos (CCA Lagos) is a non-profit, independently financed space.
The Pendulum Art Gallery is setting up a forum that will allow banks to trade in art; others are Arthouse Contemporary and Nimbus Art Centre. Arthouse Lagos holds successful auctions twice a year.
There are a number of commercial galleries in the region, including the Galérie Cécile Fakhoury in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Loom in Ghana and the state-supervised Dak’Art exhibition in Senegal.