The Artsy Collector: 11 questions with Nike Opadiran

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Galleries and artists give preference to more established and better known collectors with deeper pockets and more influence than me. So I focus on artists who are at the start of their careers, or who are doing work that attracts less commercial attention. Initially, this meant that I bought works directly from artists who were in school and through galleries offering these artists their first exhibitions. Now that means that I support a lot of artists who don’t have an MFA or whose practices are not focused on figurative painting.

How to build relationships with galleries?

I rely on face-to-face relationships. Fairs work well for this, as does a gallery visit outside of an opening reception. I use Artsy to establish initial contact with galleries as they are more responsive to inquiries through Artsy than to emails.

What trends do you see in the art market?

I am a huge fan of black figuration and its growing importance in today’s art world. Yet I know that the art market is part of and reflects modern capitalism. And I know the way American capitalism was built and is still supported by the consumption of black bodies. That bothers me. So I appreciate work that investigates black identity and our experiences without literal representation. ‘s series on black and semi-black birds in America, ‘s flower arrangements, and ‘s mixed abstractions are excellent examples.

When deciding whether or not to buy an artist’s work, what is the most important information that helps you make that decision?

I need to connect intuitively with the coins I collect. Additionally, I consider how much I like the artist’s work in general, how the piece fits into that artist’s body of work, if it seems derivative, and how well the artist is positioned for a long term success. These additional factors carry less weight for the works that I buy at a more modest price.

What do you like most about being a collector?

The art in my house gives me a respite from the spaces where I am often “other” as a black woman. There is peace in there.

I have relationships with artists and fellow collectors who exist beyond the limits of this art world. There is real joy in this.


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