Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, an avid art collector and the Chairman of Coronation Group, has stated that he is set to democratize art with the opening of the Coronation Art Gallery in Victoria Island, a high brow area in Lagos State.
The banker, investor and philanthropist stated that he is on a mission to make art accessible to anyone who would like the opportunity while also carving a route that will lead to more African art and artists reaching the global stage.
Coronation Art Gallery was officially launched on May 13, 2022, with an exhibition featuring artworks by artists from across Africa: Oluwole Omofemi, Bunmi Agusto, Abe Obedina, Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, Tonia Nneji, Debora Segun, Ndidi Emefiele, Peju Olatise and Henry Mzili Mujunga, organised by Coronation Group and curated by Ugoma Ebilah, the founder of Bloom Art Gallery.
Some of the artwork on display at the exhibition are a fraction of Aig-Imoukhuede’s personal collections, a move he says seeks to break the barriers of keeping people out while opening the doors to let everyone in.
“I want to democratize the appreciation of art, I want to democratize the love of art, I want to democratize the access to art, just as Coronation seeks to democratize wealth creation, and the only way we can do this is by bringing Arts closer to Nigerians.
This is why we have also made this collection virtual on the Coronation Art Gallery website.
What we intend to do is to post collections online and allow collectors to have access to them and of course, help you to price your art appropriately, not take advantage of you or gouge you and we’ve seen that the gallery scene in Nigeria is gradually beginning to open up.
I intend for Coronation Art Gallery to have spaces wherever Coronation Merchant Bank have a building and they have several banks coming up soon, so, this is just the beginning.
The whole idea is that ever so often, maybe weekly, we can convince art collectors to make valuable arts available to Nigerians and Africans who want to view them” he stated.
The experience is described as the past, present and future of African arts with Aig-Imoukhuede taking art lovers new, seasoned, experienced and juvenile on a journey of appreciation of African art by taking African arts and its artists from here to the rest of the world.
The pieces on display at the exhibition are a fraction of Aig-Imoukhuede’s personal collections, a move he says seeks to break the barriers of keeping people out while opening doors to let everyone in.
This development enjoys the buy-in of Femi Akinsanya, an Art Collector, he opined that what Aig-Imoukhuede has done is a way of projecting African art to the rest of the world.
“If you do not hold up your flag, people are not going to notice you. A lot of popular collections abroad are there because they have been collected by collectors who over the years and over time have put them on display.
In a lot of the major museums abroad, the works that you have there are the artworks that have been given by individual collectors.
So, I am hoping that in the nearest future when we have the right facilities like this, this is going to happen here.
As a people, our government is somewhat careless about projecting the arts, people are interested in what we do and what we create and the creativity of our people. So, I think this is an opportunity and this effort would help to push that along.
It is a token because there are also many collectors here who have incredible works of art that even other collectors have never seen. Despite being friends with Aig-Imoukhuede, this is the first time that I am seeing these collections that he has on display, and if he had not displayed them, it is possible that I may not know that he has them in his collections
So, I think people who have opportunities like this would be encouraged by this effort to try to do something similar” he opined.
On her part, Ugomah Ebilah, the curator of the gallery stated that the representation of female artists at this level is long overdue.
“It is inevitable right now that the women are sort of creaming to the top, it’s been a long time coming, we’ve been marginalized in so many ways intentionally or unintentionally, but I think that now, there’s just a bit of room for Nigerian women to sort of being a bit bolder. I think that with art, the purest of art eyes and art hearts generally are looking for beauty, looking for what they love.
I am not sure the collectors here were trying to be particularly social or political but it is nice to see that it’s almost like a nice parody” she disclosed.
Aside from the physical visit to the gallery, visitors to the gallery’s website can also enjoy a virtual tour of the artworks on display.