For one who is not a lover of art, a visit to Nike Art Gallery at Lekki Peninsula, Lagos will leave you with these words, ‘art is beautiful’. The art gallery, which is the largest in West Africa was established by one of Nigeria’s renowned artist, Nike Davies-Okundaye.
Standing at 5 stories tall, the gallery houses an eclectic mix of about 7,000 – 8,000 rich colourful African art works, all done by Nigerian artists. Each of the floors present you with Nigerian art in various medium; painting, mixed media, digital, metal work, wooden sculptures and a host of others.
Nike Davies-Okundaye’s quest to further promote, enhance, sustain and provide enabling environment for the growth of African cultural heritage in Nigeria moved her to set up the five floor ultra modern art gallery in 2009, with the main purpose of positively transforming the landscape of the hitherto neglected art and culture in Nigeria.
The art gallery represents Nike’s second textile museum and her fourth Nike Art Gallery in Nigeria. Artists and non-artists, from filmmakers to dancers to enthusiasts are welcome into the beautiful gallery, to appreciate art and also enjoy the peace and serenity from the noise and chaos of Lagos.
Nike was principally educated in art by her great grandmother, who was a weaver and an “Adire” textile maker/dyer during her lifetime. She steadily built upon what her great grandmother taught her and went ahead to develop her own style and technique in textile design and painting, and how to effectively present them for exhibitions.
The multi-talented artist also runs the Nike Centre for Arts and Culture in Lagos, Oshogbo, Kogi and Abuja, where people are trained in various forms of arts, including jewelry and bead work, sketch and painting, tye and dye, African dance, drumming and a host of others.
The centres have trained over 3000 young Nigerians, who are now earning decent livings through art. Students from various African countries, Canada and the U.S have also been admitted to study textile art.
From a very modest beginning without serious formal western education, Nike has become an ambassador of goodwill for art and culture in Nigeria, and her actions and initiatives have positively impacted the lives of many.