Omenka Art Gallery: Raising The Bar On Art In Lagos

The Omenka Gallery is a Nigerian art gallery, which represents Nigerian and International at its exhibition space located in Lagos.
Omenka Gallery was founded in Lagos in 2003 by Nigerian artist,curator and art administrator Oliver Enwonwu. Enwnwu’s father, Ben Enwonwu, (1917-1994) was one of Nigeria’s leading, 20th century, modernist artists.
Since 2003, Omenka Gallery’s programme of solo and group exhibitions has introduced new work by established and emerging Nigerian and international artists. Exhibitions, like the 2009 show, ‘A perspective on contemporary Nigerian photography’, focused public attention on developing trends in the Nigerian artworld by featuring new talents, like George Osodi (b.1974), alongside renowned masters such as J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere (1930-2014).

In the following decade, the gallery’s programme developed its international profile, with exhibitions such as Having Travelled Far, which showcased a group of established, Europe-based artists of African heritage: Godfried Donkor, Owusu-Ankomah, Manuela Sambo, EL Loko, and Ransome Stanley.

For their part, Emwonwu and his team prefer to focus on the art itself, producing and publishing catalogs on their artists and collaborating with nearby spaces to raise the bar on art in Lagos. The dealer notes that while collectors have historically tended towards more conservative, figurative works, the new “pluralistic society” (as he calls it) is increasingly open to more radical and abstract pieces. His Armory booth, featuring works by the young painter Nengi Omuku, is just one example of how tastes are changing. “We want to push our artists to grow,” he says. “Cross-fertilization is key.”

The gallery has also participated in international art fairs, including Art15 in London,Art Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and The Armory Show in New York.

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