Through The life of the guardian
July 18, 2021 | 2:28 p.m.
In Lagos’ contemporary art management space, a quiet renaissance emerges as a new generation of gallery owners change artistic and economic narratives. Nana Sonoiki, founder of newcomer The Art Pantheon, Lekki, Lagos is one of the new generation gallery owners and curators raising the art economy in Africa. With an experience in the contemporary …
In Lagos’ contemporary art management space, a quiet renaissance emerges as a new generation of gallery owners change artistic and economic narratives. Nana Sonoiki, founder of newcomer The Art Pantheon, Lekki, Lagos is one of the new generation gallery owners and curators raising the art economy in Africa. With a background in contemporary art management stretching back to the 1990s, Sonoiki is a bridge between the past and the flexible energies of the 21st century art appreciation business.
About six months after announcing her entry as a freelance professional, Sonoiki, a recognized professional in Nigeria’s primary and secondary art market for the past 20 years, officially inaugurated the Art Pantheon Gallery as a installation.
Sonoiki’s choice of time and place to launch a new art business is bold, in a Nigerian economy struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. For decades Ikoyi and Victoria Island have maintained their status as the art hub in Lagos. Lekki isn’t exactly in that league yet, despite being a prime residential and emerging business district.
Doesn’t Sonoiki take a lot of risks for a new business of luxury items such as art appreciation?
I have confidence in the integrity of the gallery and the artists promoted. Indeed, working with a number of big names in the art economy in Nigeria over the past two decades, and the fragility of art sales that collectors can trust is a conscious path that I am reflecting on. am used to it. Also, the documentation of the collection by catalog for collectors, which is at the heart of our activity, helps a lot to build the necessary confidence in the sale of art.
We have a huge number of words and works that describe art. What captures your description of art?
Art for me is this idea, these thoughts, these imaginations creatively expressed on or in a medium.
What do you find most fascinating about art?
Its dynamic character. The way it is interpreted and means different things to different people. Art is life, it is the medicine of the soul and the body; it’s therapeutic.
So, what piqued your interest in art?
Having so much creativity around me has opened up my box of interests in so many ways, from appreciation and manipulation to making money too! I grew up as a child in the same building as the late chef Oloruntoba, a great artist and performer. I will go to his studio after school and during the holidays and I have always been very fascinated by the works he created that adorn many homes and institutions around the world today.
You have been described as one of the women shaping the visual arts in Nigeria. How was the trip ?
I feel honored! The trip was very interesting but difficult, it is like unpacking gift boxes, some are small and easy to unpack while others are large and complex.
You have worked in the commercial art gallery sub-sector under Treasure House & Arthouse Contemporary Ltd for over a decade. And now you are the proud owner of The Art Pantheon Gallery. What has kept you consistent over the years?
The grace of God has kept me, even when I am discouraged and I want to stop, I gather the strength and continue, the quest to do things well and correctly, always in search of excellence!
Also, what has evolved in the Nigerian art scene from your early days until now?
Much has evolved from appreciation to higher values for Nigerian art, as more careers developed in art.
Considering the number of stories (positive and negative) from aspiring artists, would you say art management in Nigeria is successful? If not, what do you recommend changing?
It is not yet a success, but there is still a lot of work to be done to build trust and strict adherence and respect for the terms of contracts by both parties.
A little bird once described you as an “untapped resource and a good listener”. Now to you, if you could describe yourself in five words, what would they be?
Hahaha! Strong, resilient, kind, hardworking and God fearing!