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The New Nigerian Culture: Contemporary Art in Lagos

by Nana December - last edited December by Moderator

From visual art and performance to digital photography, Lagos is a city that’s reshaping its artistic story. Check out some of the city’s creative venues to find out where to go and what to see in this highly dynamic African metropolis. Here are just a few of our favourite places to see contemporary art in Lagos.

Nimbus Art Gallery

Nigerian Culture | Art in Lagos | Nimbus Art Gallery

Lagos' Ikoyi neighbourhood is home to colourful murals and local artworks © crashdburnd
 
The two-year-old Nimbus Art Gallery in Lagos’ Ikoyi neighbourhood is where you’ll find contemporary African art – mainly from Nigeria. However, there’s a distinct cross border as well as an international flavour to the creative mix. Exhibitions have featured artists from South Africa and the US, and buyers from within Nigeria or as far as Dubai. Nimbus sits upstairs from, and opens during the same hours as, its lively partner venue, the Bogobiri Guesthouse, so live music, spoken word, food buffets and art workshops are all part of the upbeat experience.
 

9 Maitama Sule Street off Awolowo Road, South-West Ikoyi, Lagos

Terra Kulture

Nigerian Culture | Art in Lagos | Terra Kulture

The experimental Terra Kulture theatre can be found on Victoria Island, Lagos © iStock/Thinkstock
 
When in Lagos, take a trip to Terra Kulture, the only consistent theatre space in town. Annual art auctions, Nigerian language classes for children and adults, and book readings of literature Nobel Prize Winner Wole Soyinka’s You Must Set Forth at Dawn – set to tour within Africa and Europe – are regularly on the events list. One big time Terra Kulture production is the awesome one hundred-man cast and crew showstopper, ‘Saro The Musical’. A Broadway-style foot stomper, it lyrically follows four young men in their quest for the good life in Lagos.
 

1376 Tiamiyu Savage Street, Victoria Island, Lagos

African Artists’ Foundation

Nigerian Culture | Art in Lagos | African Artists' Foundation

An image from artist Samuel Fosso's work at the Lagos Photo Festival © Lagos Photo Festival
 
Wonderful objects of self-expression are what you’ll find inside the intriguingly labyrinthine African Artists Foundation (AAF). This venue, which is bedecked with fine art pieces and photography, is also the creative think tank for the annual month-long Lagos Photo Festival.
Alongside a selection of national, international, African and non-African photographers, it features the work of Cameroonian photographer Samuel Fosso. Renowned for his portrait images, he launches his series, ‘The Emperor of Africa’ at the festival, playing a version of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong in every shot.
 

54 Raymond Njoku Street, Ikoyi, Lagos 

Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA)

Nigerian Culture | Art in Lagos | CCA

Curator Bisi Silva, left, has guided the Centre for Contemporary Art in its creative vision © Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
 
Bisi Silva is an internationally renowned curator and the MD behind The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (CCA,Lagos), the gallery for experimental visual art from Nigerian, West African and international artists. Found on the upper level of a whitewashed building on Lagos’s Mainland, a terraced area looks out over the huge span of the city’s suburbs; inside, the breezy library and gallery spaces provide perfect respites for topping up your knowledge of West Africa’s modern cultural landscape of photography, painting and installation. 2014 will see CCA,Lagos’ first solo exhibition with a North African focus.
 

9 McEwan Street, Yaba, Lagos

Video Art Network (VAN)

Nigerian Culture | Art in Lagos | VAN,Lagos

VAN, Lagos captures extraordinary moving images of the dynamic city © iStock/Thinkstock
 
Like a younger sibling to CCA, Lagos, the neatly titled VAN Lagos (Video Art Network) shares the same venue space, but differs in that it’s a hub for new media art. Its mission? To capture the dynamic energy of the Lagos metropolis through moving images and urban soundscapes. Video screenings and exhibitions by filmmakers and artists from within and beyond Lagos are part of a rolling programme of local and international events that have featured films4peace for World Peace Day and partnership projects including ‘Blue Nile’, an experimental video making series from Sudan.
 

9 McEwan Street, Yaba, Lagos

Virgin Atlantic operate daily direct flights to Lagos from London Heathrow. Book your flight today.

Have you had a taste of Lagos' burgeoning visual arts scene? What was the most striking artwork that you saw?


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About the author: Nana

Nana Ocran

Nana Ocran is a London-based writer and editor specialising in contemporary African culture. She was Editor-in-Chief for the Time Out Group’s series of guides to Lagos and Abuja and has consulted on and established publications on West African culture for the Danish Film Institute, the Arts Council England and the Institute of International Visual Arts. She was a nominee for CNN’s African Journalist of the Year (2011), and curatorial advisor for the Afrofuture programme at La Rinascente during Milan Design Week 2013. Nana is a regular features writer for Arik Airline’s in flight magazine, Wings, in which she writes about art, lifestyle, innovation and enterprise issues relating to Arik’s African, European and US destinations. She has been a jury member for Film Africa (London) and the Festival del Cinema Africano, d'Asia e America Latina (Milan).