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ARTSPLIT Wraps Up Grillo And Pemba Auction With VIP Dinner, Launches Out In Ghana With Bridges


ARTSPLIT, the pioneering African art trading platform, has wrapped up their contemporary masters split and lease auction featuring the iconic works of Yusuf Grillo and George Pemba with a VIP Dinner in Lagos. The auction was held from November 4 to 30 and it featured two iconic works by Nigerian artist Yusuf Grillo and South African artist George Pemba. Between Life and Death (1976) by George Pemba and Eyo (1993) by Yusuf Grillo.

The winning bidders have physical access to the works for 24 months, and the lease value of the works are $2000 for Eyo (1993) and $1000 for Between Life and Death (1976).

Dignitaries at the VIP dinner include Ugoma Ebilah, Founding Director and chief curator at BLOOM Art; Owen Omogiafo, President and Group CEO of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp); Atul Chaudhary, Managing Director, Landcraft industries Ltd; Temitayo Ogunbiyi, Nigerian-based contemporary artist and curator; and Oyindamola Fakeye, Creative Director of Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos (CCA Lagos).

George Pemba is a well-known South African artist known for his bold use of colour, with many of his paintings inspired by his time in the hospital, where he spent much of his time drawing his surroundings, fellow patients, and doctors. Pemba is regarded as a forefather of African social realism, and in 2004 he was posthumously awarded the Order of Ikhamanga for his contributions to art and literature.

Yusuf Grillo is a well-known Nigerian artist and the founding president of the Society of Nigerian Artists. Grillo is regarded as one of Nigeria’s most distinguished academically trained painters; he rose to prominence and international acclaim in the 1960s and 1970s, exhibiting an extensive collection of his early works. Many of his paintings incorporate elements of his western art training, combining western art techniques with traditional Yoruba sculpture characteristics. His use of blue in natural settings paintings is sometimes reminiscent of adire or resist-dye textiles used in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, this December, ARTSPLIT has announced the launch of their platform in Accra, Ghana, with an online auction and physical exhibition featuring Ghanaian artists Ablade Glover, Kofi Agorsor and Isshaq Ismail.

The December edition of the modern and contemporary auction, tagged Bridges, is featuring three iconic works by Ghanaian artists from 2 to 17 December and will be available to access via the dedicated ARTSPLIT app and on public view at The Mix Design Hub in Accra between 11-16 December.

The auction follows the successful inaugural Modern and Contemporary African Arts (MOCONA) Auction which took place in July 2022 and a recent November auction which coincided with Africa’s premier contemporary art fair ART X Lagos and saw the sales of works by some of the continent’s most celebrated artists including Yusuf Grillo and George Pemba.

This Bridges auction will continue ARTSPLIT’s efforts of creating better access and value for both emerging African artists and already established artists. The auction will feature works by three Ghanaian artists; bold colourful paintings by Isshaq Ismail, the vibrant works of Ablade Glover that capture the joyous everyday life of Ghana and finally Kofi Agorsor whose buoyant, semi-abstract and witty depictions of his subjects have received widespread international acclaim.

The artists included in the auction bridge generations of artistic excellence, divulging an exploratory voyage into artistic skill, medium, and narrative across generations. All three artists evoke emotions and canonise womanhood as an ode to the motherland, referencing sociocultural norms and features in their works and bridging generations of artistic mastery and skill. These artists use their art to express resilience, inspire, reflect, and motivate change in the face of ongoing national and international challenges.

Ablade Glover’s work reflects his deep love of life, activity, and colour. Glover depicts animated landscapes that mirror the exuberant diversity of Africa: its bustling market stalls, brightly attired crowds and women, and the dynamic energy that is Ghana, using warm impastoed pigments to express the dynamism, energy, and heat of his country. Mostly, his canvases are a love affair with Africa, generously splattered on canvas, evoking the continent’s struggle, tension, beauty, and verve.

The vibrant, bold colours used in Kofi Agorsor’s paintings depict the daily lives of modern Ghanaians. of spontaneity and order. His paintings are frequently embellished with splashes, drips, and flows of paint that intertwine to form magnificent forests or labyrinths, reflecting the interplay of music, dance movements, and geometry. He frequently employs pulsing colours to create an interpretation of the essence of contemporary Ghanaians; lived experiences set against the backdrop of entertainment.

Isshaq Ismail uses black, brown, green, red, ochre, purple, and blue to investigate and explore grotesque figures and textures. Ismail describes his process in sculptural terms, describing how he manipulates paint with thick, gestural brushstrokes in the same way a sculptor shapes clay. Through these striking and evocative works, he hopes to subvert and interrogate conventional notions of beauty. Representing the masses and advocating for the voiceless; his paintings explore themes of desire, resilience, power, and hope.

The ARTSPLIT app allows users to own fractions of prominent African artworks, also known as “Splits,” and keep or sell them on the app at the end of the Split Auction.” The Splits allow multiple people to co-own a single iconic piece of art, which no other art platform currently does. Users can also participate in a ‘Lease Auction’ on the app to win physical custody of these co-owned artworks for a set period.

The December auction follows the massive success of the November auction as well as the inaugural MOCONA auction held in July and attended by key figures in the Lagos art scene and exhibiting artists Edosa Ogiugo, El-Dragg Okwoju, and Abiodun Olaku. The MOCONA auction, titled Ode to Mastery, featured five prominent Nigerian artists who are key drivers of the continent’s contemporary art scene: Abiodun Olaku, Duke Asidere, Edosa Ogiugo, El-Dragg Okwoju, and Oliver Enwonwu.

ARTSPLIT is an art trading technology company driven by one common goal; enhancing the investment status of African art by allowing users to co-own rare and valuable artworks on a platform that guarantees price discovery and market liquidity.

Our mission is to position African art & artists as the preferred alternative investment choice by democratising access to iconic African art alongside developing the African art ecosystem through technology and co-ownership. We believe that, in this way, we can make wealth accessible through alternative investments.

The platform (ARTSPLIT mobile app) allows its users to own fractions, also known as “Splits,” of prominent African artworks on the app and in the “Split Auction”, where they can either keep or sell in its secondary market to other users for profit. These “Splits” (fractions) enable multiple individuals to co-own a single iconic piece of art on the platform. Following the Split Auction, users on the app can also bid to win physical custody of these co-owned artworks for a set period via the “Lease Auction.” And this cycle is repeated on the app as far as multiple individuals own splits of that artwork.