Art X Lagos 2023: discover the artists to watch

Art X Lagos 2023, the 8th edition of West Africa’s biggest art fair, was bigger and better than ever

Art X Lagos 2023 exhibition imagery
Gele by Stanley, courtesy of Stanley Arinze
(Image credit: Courtesy of Art Lagos)

Art X Lagos 2023, the eighth edition of West Africa’s biggest art fair, united artists, curators, collectors and enthusiasts at the four-day event (2-5 November 2023), in a diverse celebration of mediums and materials. This year also offered great intersections, from Dennis Osadebe X NBA’s interactive experience combining basketball teams and painting, to an installation joining art and literature.

Art x Lagos 2023 highlights

An installation by Nigeria pavilion X MOWAA X Art X 

The Nigeria pavilion at Venice Biennale 2024 has been organised by the museum of west African art (MOWAA) and curated by Aindrea Emelife, and both parties have now marked this partnership with a new project for Art X Lagos. Regarded as the ‘Nigeria imaginary incubator project’, the installation explores different viewpoints of the country’s historical moments and also features an interactive audio experience where visitors are asked questions like, what does Nigeria smell like, how does Nigeria sound, and what would Nigeria be in 2050?

Art X Lagos 2023 exhibition

Chidi Kwubiri, Way Back (centre) and Echo (right), both 2023

(Image credit: Courtesy of Art X Lagos)

ART X exhibitions

‘Odafe’ by Dafe Oboro

Dafe Oboro, winner of the 2022 Art X Prize, took viewers on a journey of his life through his exhibition ‘Odafe’, using colour symbolism to elaborate his storytelling, with work including a self-portrait of the artist drenched in gold. He creates an allegory to naming, bringing together those who bear a similar name to him and carving a strong connectivity between them. 

Daniel Arman Quarshie

Nothing felt more cohesive than the exhibited work of Daniel Arman Quarshie, with a heavy interaction between painting and viewers. The work spotlights a family we are unaware of, perhaps Quarshie’s, and takes us on a decade-long experience of how a family is made, capturing a portrait of a marriage and a family photograph. In one of the paintings, there seems to be a celebration, perhaps of motherhood. A mother cradles her child, her face embellished with hope as she joins a group of women for a photograph, their faces holding the simplicity of their youths as they smile. 

Ahemaa ne Akatakyie by Yaw Owusu

At first sight, Yaw Owusu’s Ahemaa ne Akatakyie, one might think it’s a cluster of pebbles, but look again and this is cast into doubt. The work is made from thousands of Ghanaian pesewa coins to create vivid shapes, in a unique variation of colours and a suggestion that each shape translates to a warrior. 

artist covered in gold


(Image credit: Courtesy of Art Lagos)

‘Gele’ by Arinze Stanley

Hyper-realism is the core of Arinze Stanley’s work, presented at Art X Lagos 2023 by Alexis gallery. Stanley exhibited works under the title ‘Gele’, which celebrates the essence of the eponymous head tie in Nigerian culture, but also the versatility of it, the art of it and its unending mystery. 

Echo, Way Back, and Twin Face Reminisce by Chidi Kwubiri 

Staying close to the work of Chidi Kwubiri feels like understanding the mystery of gestural abstraction; only a step backward would come as shocking. The artist presented Echo, Way Back and Twin Face Reminisce, all filled with emotion and colour. 

‘Where is Chichi’ by Uthman Wahaab

Uthman Wahaab’s Where is Chichi questions the convention of feminine beauty and explores the liberty of embracing the self; but what makes this a mesmerising body of work is the different experiences the project offers. It’s very interactive and tells the story of ‘where Chichi’ really is, from a hotel bar to a beach lounge to scuba diving. 

The Hands that Remain by Papa Omotayo and Max Kalaiwo

Papa Omotayo and Max Kalaiwo's installation titled The Hands that Remain takes us back to the 1980s, into the home of a doctor. The installation features family portraits on a dresser table, a set of old patterned cushions, a centre table with a bowl of kolanut, a bookshelf in the corner and paintings that illustrate the bustle of a city. On one side, drawing papers of hand illustrations from school children shroud the wall. The exhibition explains what it’s like to remain after the mass migration of Nigerian doctors to the US and UK in the 1980s and 1990s.

exhibition imagery

‘Where is Chichi’

(Image credit: Courtesy of Art Lagos)

Ugonna-Ora Owoh is a journalist and editor based in Lagos, Nigeria. He writes on arts, fashion, design, politics and contributes to Vogue, New York Times, Wallpaper, Wepresent, Interior Design, Foreign Policy and others.