The 588-page book A King’s Passion: A 21st Century Patron of African Art was launched at the Access Bank headquarters in Lagos on Thursday, November 2nd, marking a significant event in this week’s highly anticipated Lagos art calendar.
Supported by the Ford Foundation and Access Bank, the magazine offers a thorough examination of the outstanding examples of modern and contemporary African art that are part of His Majesty, Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe mni, CFR, Obi of Onitsha’s collection.
Passion, intellectual curiosity, and intuition propelled the Obi of Onitsha to gather approximately 4000 artworks during a forty-year period; more than 300 of these are included in the book.
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When it is finished in 2025, the Chimedie Museum in Onitsha will contain his art collection. The article discusses how indigenous collectors are enhancing perceptions of African art and the growing significance of art patronage in the continent.
Edited by SMO Contemporary Art, A King’s Passion is lavishly illustrated in full color and features 120 artists as well as carefully chosen modern and contemporary masterpieces. Some of the artists featured in this collection are Ben Enwonwu, Uche Okeke, Amon Kotei, El Anatsui, Ablade Glover, Twins Seven Seven, Ndidi Dike, Godfried Donkor, Midy, Mxolisi Dolla Sapeta, Kofi Agorsor, Frew Kebede Gemech, Tizta Berhanu, and many more.
Some of the best academics and authorities on African art, such as Sylvester Ogbechie, Frank Ugiomoh, Edwin Bodjawah, Babacar Mbow, Krdyz Ikwuemesi, Jerry Buhari, Bernard Akoi-Jackson, Chike Nwagbogu, and Oliver Enwonwu, have contributed critical essays to the publication.
Dr. Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Holdings, who organized the event, said, “We are delighted to sponsor A King’s Passion: A 21st Century Patron of African Art, which strategically shows how art can contribute to developing our continent and telling a fresh story with ancient roots.”
An amazing example of how creativity can generate wealth from the bottom up and influence major paradigm shifts about our identity, culture, and history is the impact of HM Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe’s exquisite art collection and his strategic art patronage for over 40 years, nurturing African talent.
The book bears the dedication to the late Innocent Chukwuma, a well-known social justice campaigner and former West African representative of the Ford Foundation, who provided seed funding to promote its publishing.l
Dr. Chichi Anyiagolu-Okoye, the Ford Foundation Director for West Africa, stated that the Obi of Onitsha founded the museum not just out of love for art but also because he understood the value of having one’s own story and narrative and passing it down in a cultural context that is true to its original meaning.
“The Chimedie Museum will support community education, inspiration, and connection, particularly during this pivotal period in which the debate over the proper return of African artifacts from Europe to their original owners is gaining prominence.”
During the book launch, award-winning photographer Kelechi Amadi-Obi and art curator and architect Jess Castelotte led a lively panel discussion with prominent figures in the African art market, including Hannah O’Leary, Senior Director of Sotheby’s auction house.
The other two were Tokini Peterside-Schwebig, the creator of the ART X Lagos art fair, and Femi Akinsanya, a well-known African art collector and philanthropist. Titi Ogufere, the convener of Design Week Lagos, led the debate.