For the Love of Nigerian Art: Supporting Arts and Crafts in Lagos

The Segun Tanlukeke Art Gallery in the Lekki Arts and Crafts Market, Lagos, is bringing attention to local talent
The Segun Tanlukeke Art Gallery in the Lekki Arts and Crafts Market, Lagos, is bringing attention to local talent | © EyeEm / Alamy Stock Photo
Jareh Das

In the popular Lekki Arts and Crafts Market, an unassuming gallery holds a treasure trove of Nigerian art, laid out for African art enthusiasts, collectors and the curious alike. Segun Tanlukeke Art Gallery is a dedicated space for Modern and contemporary Nigerian art and is an unmissable experience in Nigeria’s largest open-air market dedicated entirely to arts and crafts.

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Hunt for masks, paintings, sculptures, textiles and traditional masquerade attire at the Lekki Arts and Crafts Market in Lagos

Also known as Oba Elegushi International Market or Jakande Art Market, Lekki Arts and Crafts Market was established in Lagos in the 1990s, predominantly aimed at tourists on the lookout for authentic Nigerian and African art and crafts. A renowned open-air venue in the Elegushi area of Lekki, the market sits on land belonging to the Elegushi royal family, part of the historic Ikate-Elegushi Kingdom dating back to 1601. The family still manages the market to this day. Inside is a veritable Aladdin’s cave, offering masks, paintings, sculptures, old coins and currencies, textiles and traditional masquerade attire.

The market has slowly evolved into a destination for art enthusiasts and connoisseurs with the help of organisations such as the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) Lagos, Africa Artists Foundation (AAF), Arthouse Contemporary, an array of commercial galleries including Rele, SMO Contemporary, Art 21 and the establishment of West Africa’s premier art fair, Art X Lagos. The last decade is widely recognised as Nigeria’s art renaissance thanks to a homegrown appreciation for indigenous art and artists and a healthy market boom.

Nigeria is undergoing a renaissance with local artisans being recognised for their talent

Making equal contributions to Lagos’ reputation as an art hub is Segun Tanlukeke Art Gallery. Located in the heart of Lekki Arts and Crafts Market, it’s a unique venue exhibiting Modern and contemporary painting, sculpture and drawing. Segun Tanlukeke Art Gallery is run by Wale Rasheed, the son of a collector of Nigerian Modern art. It’s easy to spend hours browsing the artwork here. Artists on display include Oyerinde Olotu, an impressionistic artist who takes inspiration from everyday Nigerian life; Modupe Oteju, who is renowned for his explorations of Yoruba culture; and Christopher Eruaga, whose stunning fusions of geometry and abstract sculptural forms are presented in delicate watercolour.

“I came into this business in 2007 to continue a family legacy,” says Rasheed. “My father was an art collector who set up an antiques store in the art and crafts market’s many iterations. Most of my siblings followed the traditional career paths of medicine, business and accounting, but one of us had to carry on my father’s art legacy.” It was the potency of this legacy that inspired him to be the one to carry the mantle: “It’s what really got me into art, a legacy project which I joined after graduating from university and which has continued until today.”

After taking on the role of gallerist, he drew inspiration from spaces such as Nike Art Gallery. Founded by Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye, a batik and adire (indigo reverse-dye technique) artist, the eponymous gallery has become a staple in the city since 2007. And while the market was viewed in the past as a tourist’s haven and a “place mainly for souvenirs”, Rasheed has worked tirelessly over the years to reframe this perspective by forging meaningful and long-lasting relationships with emerging and established Nigerian artists, many of whom work with him long-term. The gallery exhibits paintings, sculptures, antiques, and metal and woodwork. The paintings, however, dominate, and Rasheed has amassed a staggering collection of thousands of paintings from artists from all across Nigeria. He changes the gallery’s display every three months to spotlight new artists and their work. The price of art ranges from N50,000 (£117) into the millions of naira (or thousands of pounds).

Other artists on display have included Stanley Dudu, Adewale Ojo, Abiodun Badejo, Akeem Adeleke, Jimoh Buraimoh, Muraina Oyelami, John Oyelami, Nelson Okoh and soon, Elizabeth Ekpetorson. In 2020, Rasheed plans to work with more female artists, to ensure they are equally represented both locally and internationally.

Rasheed also has plans to expand to a satellite space, either within a museum in Lagos, or on the island nation of Mauritius. For now, he remains committed to fostering existing artist-dealer relationships and forging new ones while promoting the wealth of homegrown creative talent.

Segun Tanlukeke Art Gallery is located on Oba Elegushi Street, off the Lekki-Epe Expressway (between the 4th and 5th roundabout), about a 20-minute journey from Victoria Island.

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