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Remembering Herbert Wigwe's Impact on the Nigerian Art Industry


The Nigerian art industry lost one of its most influential patrons and advocates for arts and culture, Dr.Herbert O. Wigwe. As the Group Chief Executive Officer of Access Holdings Plc, Wigwe, beyond his business acumen, was a passionate advocate for art and culture, leaving a lasting impact on the industry through his dedication and support of several art initiatives.


Group CEO Herbert Wigwe with #BenEnwonwu's seven wooden sculptures commissioned by the Daily Mirror in 1960. Celebrating Enwonwu's 100th birthday, the works were on view at #ARTXLagos this year courtesy of the Access Bank Private Collection.
Group CEO Herbert Wigwe with #BenEnwonwu's seven wooden sculptures commissioned by the Daily Mirror in 1960. Celebrating Enwonwu's 100th birthday, the works were on view at #ARTXLagos this year courtesy of the Access Bank Private Collection.

Wigwe had a keen eye and a deep appreciation for art, and he spared no expense in acquiring some of the rarest and most unconventional art pieces both locally and internationally.  A visit to Wigwe's office in 2022 by an AriseTV reporter revealed his rich and diverse visual art collection, which could rival an art gallery. He wasn't simply a collector; he breathed art.  "I enjoy collecting art," he once stated, "each piece means something to me. They inspire me differently." His patronage to the arts industry was not merely theoretical–collecting works that spanned a range of mediums and styles, including renowned artists Ben Enwonwu, Kehinde Wiley and more.


Driven by the belief that valuing fine art necessitates nurturing it, Wigwe through Access Bank Group spearheaded Access Bank's support of Art X Lagos since 2016. He hailed it as a launchpad for African art's global expansion and pledged continued support for artist empowerment and ecosystem building which has been evident to date.





Wigwe's influence extended beyond the borders of Nigeria. He was instrumental in CNN's "Avant Garde" series special, a program that shed light on the rich artistic heritage of the continent. His involvement not only brought recognition to African art but also challenged stereotypical narratives and highlighted the diversity and dynamism of the creative scene.


As we mourn the loss of this impactful figure, let us reflect on one of his last tweets on X, which reads "Today and always, let us remember that life is a precious gift - a chance to breathe, feel, love, experience and connect. Let's honour this gift by living with purpose, kindness, and gratitude, making every moment count. Let us number our days!"


Perhaps that is the best way to honour his memory, knowing that Wigwe carved his mark in the history of African art with his vision and support.


Mr. Herbert Wigwe, passed away in a helicopter crash in California, along with his wife, Chizoba Wigwe and son, Chizi Wigwe. We also acknowledge the passing of Former Gorup Chairman of Nigerian Exchange Group, Managing Partner of Chris Ogunbanjo LP, Otunba Abimbola Ogunbanjo. May their souls rest in Perfect Peace.


 

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Remembering Herbert Wigwe's Impact on the Nigerian Art Industry

February 12, 2024

Fredrick Favour

2 min read

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