Monday, February 21, 2011

Anatomy Of Three Nigerian Modern Art Collectors

Mr. Remi Lasaki
Anatomy of Three Contemporary Art Collectors
First published in Art Business Outlook with Mudiare Onobrakpeya
in Adumadan Arts Beats Vol. 1 No 2 March 16-31, 1998
Lagos, Nigeria.

• Remi Lasaki
• Yemisi Shyllon
• Kiddie Dare

Between the three of them, they all have a common string of connectivity. They are all highly dedicated and actualized professional people at the peak of their profession. They have shy introvert type personalities, leading very private lives, and are rarely seen in public gatherings except during art exhibitions. Their religious devotion to collecting masterpieces by great and renowned Nigerian artist border on an obsession. They collect out of the pureness and exhilarating joy of the aesthetic quality of the artworks. Arguably they have a collection valued at several tens of millions of Naira. They are Remi Lasaki, Yemisi-Shyllon and Kiddie Dare, who are all great connoisseurs of art.

Remi Lasaki’s zeal for acquiring master piece art is a transferred passion from his days on wall street, where he cut his teeth picking a lot of blue chip and fortune 500 stocks. He attended a prestigious business school in the outskirts of New York, where he took his training in Finance. His voracious appetite for consummating business deals like collecting artworks is simply non ending. Art for him represents the highest level of preservation of our rich traditional values and culture. “The patron has a duty to collect and preserve good art for posterity sake”, he once observed. Good art he says,” is a constant all time barometer for measuring our civility as a people”, not surprisingly then he has in his portfolio such greats, as David Herbert Dale, Jimoh Buroimoh, Abayomi Berber amongst others. Lasaki currently has an ultra modern office space built in the classical old Lagos Brazillian style in the heart of Lagos. His walls of course celebrate his deep conviction in the unrivalled beauty of African art.

Yemisi Shyllon can best be described a restless academic, whose versatility and intellect is awesome, at various times he has excelled in Engineering and architectural design, legal studies and marketing, he is currently a doctoral candidate in business and strategic management. Despite his apparent chaotic and erratic lifestyle, his love for the arts is unalloyed and devotional. He has the widest known collection of contemporary Nigerian art to date outside the Modern Gallery of Art in the National Theatre. Every generation of artist past and present is represented in his museum home. The volume of his work is only matched by the quality. He is currently engaged in documenting his extensive collection which one day he would donate to a Foundation in his name.

Kiddy Dare loves to fly and his job constantly takes him to different parts of the globe. This is one man who loves Champaign, rare wine and collecting premium artworks. He has an enviable collection of several artworks rightfully considered to be classic contemporary pieces of Nigerian art. In his opinion the single most important ingredient for being a collector is not wealth but having a discerning sense for fishing out good art. Art may very well be for him an avenue for getting well grounded, considering the break neck and tight professional schedules, he has to work around.

Interestingly all three, do not see art as a status symbol or a mode of wealth acquisition, they have no speculative intent for financial gain. They all agree that there is a good chance that their individual portfolios might already be worth a fortune, but for now, just enjoying and living around good art is all that counts. If someday these collection become valuable, each concludes they will also have had the added benefit of spending a life time around beautiful art.

Postscript Feb 21, 2011

Remi Lasaki's fortune may have been tied to the crash of the Nigerian Stock Market. He is today primarily now concerned with the re-invigoration of the Nigerian stock market, and rarely collects art these days. He however opens his home and collection once every year at Christmas, to people from all walks of life to see, he also commissions original art by a modern Nigerian artist once every year at Christmas, to celebrate the Civility of the Nigerian people.
In 2009 he commissioned an independent Valuation and documentation of his private art Collection. This collection was first started from his mother’s home in Suru- Lere, a suburb of Lagos 30 years ago.

Yemisi Shyllon did not complete his doctoral training in business, but runs a thriving law firm. He is today, however, President of the Omoba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Foundation (OYASAF), an organization reputed to own the largest single holding of modern Nigerian art globally. Some of his pieces have been placed in International art auctions like the Bonhams auction: Africa Now in New York 2010, to sensitize people globally about the potential of the new and sustainable emerging West African Art Market. His works are also for the same reason, now on loan to major art institutions around the world.

Kiddie Dare is today one of the key persons in Nigeria’s Air Traffic Control Agency, and has become completely reclusive, he was last seen in public art gatherings 10 years ago. He remains a very strong advocate though, of the use of Nigerian art in the beautification of public spaces and organizations. For 10 years he has not spoken a word to anyone about his passion for modern Nigerian art, and his art is not accessible to the public.

They all continue to add value to our unique identity as Nigerians.