Meet Nkechi Cryan, the art consultant committed to safeguarding Africa’s space in the global art community, one artist at a time

As we drive into the underground car park of Eko Pearl Towers, nestled in the heart of Lagos’ most prolific real estate master stroke, Eko Atlantic, the stage is set for a new era.

Meet Nkechi Cryan, the art consultant committed to safeguarding Africa’s space in the global art community, one artist at a time [Credit: www.theartgorgeous.com]

Eko Atlantic represents a new dawn for a city on the rise. What better place to hold an exhibition for an artist that represents a new generation of artistry; that is part of Lagos’ burgeoning cultural ecosystem.

One woman that is leading the charge is the formidable Nkechi Cryan, the art consultant committed to safeguarding Africa’s space in the global art community, one artist at a time, founder of the Niki Cryan art consultancy. As her heels click against the gleaming floors of the exhibition hall, Nkechi’s quiet charm is palpable. Clad in a perfectly- tailored blue dress, with her strawberry blonde pixie cut, Nkechi is a striking sight all by herself. Small but mighty, this dynamic young art connoisseur is the woman who has Lagos’ art scene nestled in the palm of her delicate hand.

On behalf of the Niki Cryan art consultancy, Nkechi provides a range of bespoke services. According to her website:

I seek to develop the careers of a select few emerging artists, to advocate for both the business and creative interests of my clients.

In an advisory role, whether assisting with your first purchase or working alongside collectors to find the right works to complement an existing collection, my aim is to provide a bespoke service that best meets the needs of each collector.

When collaborating with galleries, I strive to create exceptional experiences for patrons by leveraging the excitement of pop up spaces and the power of digital media.

Creating a 360 experience with art and innovation at the center of everything she does, Nkechi Cryan is committed to edifying African art to the world.

What started as a genuine love and appreciation for art and expression has evolved into an impressive business model, an art consultancy that is dedicated to the business of art; freeing artists to focus on what matters, creating.

Sitting down on a plush leather sofa, Nkechi began to explain why Lagos and most importantly, why now?

‘’I had been ready to start and launch my consultancy when I moved back to Lagos. Lagos is in an amazing place culturally, it's the new cultural center and I'm grateful to be here and begin here.

I was always an artist myself and always drawing and painting but I was drawn to the business side of art too, in particular working with artists. I believe it’s so important for artists to be able to focus on creating and they need people to work with them and help them make a living. It's like any career, everyone should be appreciated and given the right support.

I was working in the arts and for me, because of my interest in artists careers, I decided that I wanted to focus more on the artist, helping them build a career, build a market, a new economy. Lagos is a great first stop for me because I'm based here so it makes perfect sense.’’

Nkechi’s artist of choice for exhibition certainly has an interesting story. Boxer turned mixed-media artist Irvin Pascal creates powerful pieces which challenge our notions of consumerism, what it means to be African and emit a masculine energy that’s undeniably intoxicating. With all the artists Nkechi comes across in her line of work, we were curious to know why she chose to work with Irvin in particular.

’I have been observing Irvin's career and work from a distance and I thought he was so unique. I had been working as a consultant and I also had an Instagram account called 'Art News Africa' which has been chronicling the African art revolution for the last 5 years.

African art and artists are so diverse. Not just Africans in Africa but in the diaspora too; Black British, Black American, Caribbean artists, we are all a part of the conversation and they are what I wanted to focus on.

When I saw Irvin's work, I loved the use of black, the use of material and the physicality of in his pieces. He makes his own material and he's constantly working. There's a dedication there, his work is consistent, he’s constantly working and it’s that dedication to his craft that I resonated with.’’

Irvin, who flew into Lagos, in the midst of a Los Angeles residency and whose work is displayed in Berlin is a global artist with an international reputation. Nkechi could have chosen to hold his exhibition anywhere in the world but she chose Lagos. Nkechi, like many other creatives, is recognising the valuable cultural capital that Lagos holds. Its creative scene is rapidly expanding with a growing number of opportunities for art lovers and creators alike.

‘’I think in the last few years, I have been observing how the Lagos art market has grown significantly. There are good auctions, amazing art fairs, lots of new galleries popping up . I think that Lagos is well on the way to being, in fact it's a player already.

When people think of the new center for the art world, Lagos is coming away from the fringes; we're having international artists coming over, Yinka Shonibare and Kehinde Wiley, who painted Obama was here. Of course, they're challenges like anything that's still growing but I think the more players, the more artists that come onto the scene, it's just going to get better.

Nigerians are just so talented whether it's music or art and I think it's about having the right ecosystem and having people who are pushing and working hard to make things happen. The more people who are involved and passionate, it's only going to get better.’’

Judging by the success of Irvin’s exhibition, it’s clear that Nkechi and the Niki Cryan international fine art consultancy are onto a winning formula. Irvin virtually sold-out and generated a buzz around his work with many clamouring to get a piece of the elusive artist.

For the seasoned art collector, it’s business as usual but for a novice, the whole community can seem a little daunting. Nkechi explained that art, much like anything we buy, comes from love.

‘’When it comes to collecting art, my advice would be to follow your heart. With art, you have to love what you're buying. You should always look for things that you want to live with. If you're someone who enjoys collecting pieces, as long as you enjoy doing it.

It's also important to remember why you want to collect. If you're collecting out of love's sake, keep doing it but be observant. You want to work with people who know the business of art, go on Instagram, talk to people who are in the know, go to art fairs. Go to openings and absorb the art, figure out what you like. However, don't be too rigid.

Some people have very niche collections whilst others have very general ones. It's the same as buying clothes or shoes, it's just another thing that you love.’’

Finally, Nkechi, an expert in Lagos’ thriving art scene shares a gallery off the beaten path that she would recommend. In the spirit of watching artists grow and being a part of that journey, she suggests a gallery that is committed to nurturing young talent. ‘’I think Re Le gallery is a great one. They have a great program that has been very consistent over the last few years and they have lots of young exciting artists.

They have the Young Contemporaries program where you get to meet new artists.

I love young artists because you get to meet them at very early stages in their career and watch them grow.’’

A nurturer in every sense of the world, Nkechi Cryan is using the power of the digital age, her extensive knowledge of art and her desire to support and protect African artists to create something remarkable.

As Lagos’ cultural ecosystem continues to grow, we must pay homage to a woman that is forging a path with her bare hands.

JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!

Unblock notifications in browser settings.

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng

Recommended articles

5 dirtiest items in your house apart from your toilet seat

5 dirtiest items in your house apart from your toilet seat

Waking up to soaked bedclothes? It could be more than just the heat

Waking up to soaked bedclothes? It could be more than just the heat

Japa Story: UNILAG rejected me so I moved to the UK after spending ₦5 million

Japa Story: UNILAG rejected me so I moved to the UK after spending ₦5 million

3 tips for a long and hot sex life

3 tips for a long and hot sex life

Ask Pulse: How can I cope with being horny in a long-distance relationship?

Ask Pulse: How can I cope with being horny in a long-distance relationship?

5 things to do to keep your heart healthy

5 things to do to keep your heart healthy

This week's best celebrity pictures on Instagram

This week's best celebrity pictures on Instagram

Finding true love is very hard for these 5 groups of people

Finding true love is very hard for these 5 groups of people

Never say this at the border, you may not get through passport control

Never say this at the border, you may not get through passport control

10 essentials you need to pack for a stress-free vacation

10 essentials you need to pack for a stress-free vacation

What to know about the Nigerian Navy salary structure

What to know about the Nigerian Navy salary structure

List of postal codes in Anambra State

List of postal codes in Anambra State