Nana Sonoiki: Building the Bridge in Art Appreciation | The Guardian Nigeria News
By guardian life
July 18, 2021 | 2:28 p.m.
In the contemporary art management space of Lagos, a quiet renaissance is emerging as a new generation of gallerists are changing artistic and economic narratives. Nana Sonoiki, founder of newcomer The Art Pantheon, Lekki, Lagos is part of the new generation of gallerists and curators who are boosting the art economy in Africa. With experience in contemporary…
In the contemporary art management space of Lagos, a quiet renaissance is emerging as a new generation of gallerists are changing artistic and economic narratives. Nana Sonoiki, founder of newcomer The Art Pantheon, Lekki, Lagos is part of the new generation of gallerists and curators who are boosting the art economy in Africa. With a background in contemporary art management dating back to the 1990s, Sonoiki is a bridge between the past and the flexible energies of the 21st century art appreciation industry.
About six months after announcing her entry as a freelance professional, Sonoiki, a proven professional in Nigeria’s primary and secondary art market over the past 20 years, has officially unveiled The Art Pantheon Gallery as an installation .
Sonoiki’s choice of time and place to launch a new art business is a bold one, in a Nigerian economy struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. For decades, Ikoyi and Victoria Island have maintained their status as an art hub in Lagos. Lekki isn’t exactly in that league yet, despite being a prime residential and emerging business district.
Isn’t Sonoiki taking a lot of risks for a new venture into luxury items such as art appreciation?
I have confidence and 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 selling art that collectors can trust is a conscious path that I am used to. Additionally, documenting the collection through a catalog for collectors, which is essential to our business, goes a long way in establishing the confidence required in selling art.
We have quite a huge number of words and works that describe art. What captures your description of art?
Art for me is that idea, those thoughts, those imaginations creatively expressed on or in a medium.
What fascinates you the most in art?
Its dynamic character. The way it is interpreted and means different things to different people. Art is life, it is medicine for the soul and the body; it is therapeutic.
So what piqued your interest in art?
Having so much creativity around me has opened up my box of interest in so many ways, from appreciation to manipulation to earning money too! I grew up as a child in the same building as the late Chief Oloruntoba, a great artist and performer. I will go to his studio after school and during holidays and have always been very fascinated by the works he created and which today adorn many homes and institutions around the world.
You have been described as one of the women shaping the visual arts in Nigeria. How was the trip ?
I feel honoured! The trip was very interesting but challenging, it’s like unwrapping gift boxes, some are small and easy to unwrap 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?
God’s grace has kept me, even when I’m discouraged and feel like quitting, I gather strength and continue, the quest to do things right and right always striving for excellence!
Also, what has evolved in the Nigerian art scene from your beginnings until today?
Much has evolved from appreciation to higher values for Nigerian art, with more careers developing in art.
Given the number of stories (both positive and negative) from budding artists, would you say that art management in Nigeria is a success? If not, what do you recommend changing?
It is not yet successful, but a lot of work needs to be done to build trust and strict adherence and adherence to the terms of contracts by both parties needs to happen.
A little birdie 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?
Haha! Strong, resilient, kind, hardworking and God fearing!