List Of Famous Artists from Nigeria
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List of the most popular artists from Nigeria, listed alphabetically with photos when available. For centuries artists have been among the world’s most important people, helping chronicle history and keep us entertained with one of the earliest forms of entertainment. You might also be interested in famous Nigerian playwrights and popular actors from Nigeria. Whether they’re known for painting, sculpting, etching or drawing, the famous Nigerian artists on this list have kept that tradition alive by creating renowned pieces of art that have been praised around the world. You can find useful information below about these notable Nigerian artists, such as when they were born and where their place of birth was.
Keziah Jones (born Olufemi Sanyaolu on 10 January 1968) is a Nigerian singer-songwriter and guitarist. He describes his musical style as “Blufunk”, which is a fusion between raw blues elements and hard, edgy funk rhythms. Also his Nigerian roots in Yoruba music and soul music can be considered a major influence on his sound.
He is known for his distinctive style of guitar playing, including his percussive right-hand technique which is similar to a bass guitarist’s slapping technique.
Life and career
Olufemi Sanyaolu a.k.a. Keziah Jones is the son of Oshodolamu Sanyaolu; Chief of the Yoruba people and successful industrialist and Abiola Sanyaolu. Born on 10 January 1968, Jones spent his early childhood in a large family in a part of Nigeria in the city of Lagos. From a young age he was being prepared to follow his father’s footsteps in the family concern and was expected to have an academic career. Therefore, his father enrolled him in a Public School in London and he left Nigeria at the age of eight to be educated in England.
“I had to find a way out of all that, and music was it!” By the age of 13 he had discovered the old school piano and taught himself how to play and write songs. Three years later he switched to the guitar, increasingly neglecting his studies. After scraping through exams he went against his father’s wishes and family tradition even more by skipping school and busking in the streets, clubs and London Underground, constantly avoiding the police.
Jones led a bohemian lifestyle for several years instead of the one envisaged for him. “Lose all time, love your mind, free your soul!” were words from his song Free Your Soul. Moving from London to Paris and back again frequently accompanied only by his guitar, the young Jones acquired a reputation as a talented musician and charismatic performer with a unique “hard funk” style. In 1990, whilst busking in London’s Portobello Road, Keziah was discovered by composer and ex-keyboard player for Sailor and Culture Club, Phil Pickett quickly evolving into full-time management of the artist. Pickett signed Jones to a long-term songwriting agreement with Hit & Run Music Publishing ( photo Billboard 1990) who’s executive, Dave Massey, had recorded songs by Jones when at Chrysalis Music. Massey continued to be involved in Keziah’s career for the next 8 years. After a brief but near disastrous flirtation with Capitol Records in the USA, in 1992, Pickett signed Keziah to Emmanuel de Buretel’s Delabel label for his debut album Blufunk Is a Fact. Recording in London with producer Kevin Armstrong, included in the worldwide success of the project was Keziah’s first single “Rhythm Is Love”. Jones attributes his Parisian subway experiences as highly instrumental to his by now blossoming career in his official biography. By 2008, Jones had recorded eight albums and one DVD. After performing many shows and festivals throughout the world between 2009 and 2012, late in 2012 Keziah Jones was back in Lagos preparing to record his new studio album set for worldwide release on Because Music in 2013
Keziah often cites Fela Kuti, Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix as important influences.
Keziah Jones also draws,paints and writes poetry. He is a photographer and has produced short films, including one entitled BLACKSPEEDTEXT This film, his music and the other facets of his artistic life reflect his experiences on the streets.
Keziah was married to Anglo-Nigerian singer Akure Wall in 1994. they separated in 1996.
On 14 January 2012 Keziah married Hauwa Mukan, they separated in December 2013.
Blufunk Is a Fact – (23 March 1992)
African Space Craft – (27 March 1995)
Liquid Sunshine – (10 May 1999)
Black Orpheus – (22 April 2003)
Black Orpheus Limited Edition – (2004)
Rhythm Is Love – Best Of – (2 November 2004)
Nigerian Wood – (1 September 2008)
Captain Rugged – (18 November 2013)
“Frinigrô Interstellar” – 1991
“Live” – 1993
“The African Anarchist” – 1999
“Where Is Life” – 1992
“Million Miles from Home” – 1995
“If You Know” – 1995
Live at the Elysée Montmartre (14 June 2004)
The album Nigerian Wood spent 43 weeks in the French S.N.E.P.-chart, and reached number 4. Black Orpheus was in the French chart for 63 weeks, its highest position being 13. Rhythm is Love stayed in the chart for seven weeks. Nigerian Wood spent four weeks on Billboard’s European Albums Chart.
Eva & Leon (2015)
Twins Seven Seven
Prince Twins Seven Seven, born Prince Taiwo Olaniyi Oyewale-Toyeje Oyelale Osuntoki (3 May 1944 – 16 June 2011) in Ogidi, Kogi State, Nigeria, was a Nigerian painter, sculptor and musician.
He was born as Prince Taiwo Olaniyi Wyewale-Toyeje Oyekale Osuntoki to a father, Aitoyeje, who was a Muslim from Ibadan, and a mother, Mary, who was a Christian from Ogidi. The name by which he became known alludes to the fact that he was the only surviving child of seven sets of twins born to his mother.
Twins Seven-Seven was an itinerant singer and dancer before he began his career as an artist, first attending in 1964 an Mbari Mbayo workshop conducted by Ulli Beier and Georgina Beier in Osogbo, a Yoruba town in southwestern Nigeria. He went on to become one of the best known artists of the Osogbo School.
His work is influenced by traditional Yoruba mythology and culture, and creates a fantastic universe of humans, animals, plants and Yoruba gods. Visually, his work resembles Yoruba carvings in the segmentation, division and repetition of his compositions; conceptually, it reflects this influence in the emphasis on transformation and balance, as well as its embodiment of dualities such as the earthly and the spiritual, past and present, industry and agriculture. Early works such as Dreams of the Abiku Child (1967) make allusion to concepts or figures in Yoruba cosmology and mythology, such as the abiku (twin), and the orisha Osun. However, Twins Seven Seven also described his work as “contemporary Yoruba traditional art,” not only paying homage to the influence of his cultural background but also to noting his responsiveness to current events and the postcolonial experience.
In 1972 Twins Seven Seven taught in the US at Merced College in California and at the Haystack Mountain Crafts School, Deer Isle.
In July 1982, he survived a car crash — although a radio announcement of his death was made after he was pulled unconscious from the wrecked vehicle. The radio announced his death — and after being given an artificial hip and confined to bed for 18 months.
In the 1990s his work appeared in major exhibitions in Spain, Finland, Mexico, the Netherlands, England, Germany, and the US.
Honours he received included Nigerian chieftaincies, as when in January 1996 he was named the Ekerin-Basorun and the Atunluto of Ibadan, and in December 1996 was named the Obatolu of Ogidi.
He was designated UNESCO Artist for Peace on 25 May 2005 “in recognition of his contribution to the promotion of dialogue and understanding among peoples, particularly in Africa and the African Diaspora”.
Twins Seven Seven died aged 67 in Ibadan on 16 June 2011 following complications from a stroke.
Olivier Doria d’Angri (Rome/London)
The Glendonwyn family (Madrid/Tenerife/Dubai)
Patrick and Awele Okigbo (Abuja, Nigeria)
Slang in Trance (Caravan of Dreams, 1986)
With Ronald Shannon Jackson
Live at the Caravan of Dreams (Caravan of Dreams, 1986)
Chinwe Ifeoma Chukwuogo-Roy MBE (2 May 1952 −17 December 2012) was a visual artist who was born in Awka (Oka) Anambra state Nigeria, but spent much of her young life in Ikom on the Cameroon border, before moving back to the family home at Umubele in Awka. She lived in Britain since 1975. Her paintings, prints and sculptures are predominantly figurative, in the genres of portraiture, still-life, landscape and narrative subjects. She won international attention in 2002 for being only one of two Nigerian artists (the other being Ben Enwonwu) to have been allowed to paint official portraits of Queen Elizabeth II.
Chukwuogo-Roy was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours.
Early years and education
Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy was born in Ondo State, Nigeria, but moved with her family to Ikom in Cross Rivers State, where her father had extensive cocoa plantations. As a teenager she was a refugee in the Biafran War after which she moved to the family home in Awka Anambra State and in 1975 she moved to Britain. She studied at East Ham College and subsequently obtained a B.A. Hons. Degree in Graphic Design from Hornsey College of Art (now part of Middlesex University) in 1978. She took up painting professionally in 1988.
Chukwuogo-Roy first gained international fame for painting the official Golden Jubilee portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, commissioned by The Commonwealth Secretariat. The full-length portrait was unveiled at a ceremony at Marlborough House by former Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon on Commonwealth Day, 2002.
Other high-profile commissions include portraits of Kriss Akabusi, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, the Lord Mayor of Norwich. She was commissioned by Martin Keown to paint Arsenal’s Highbury Stadium.
In 2003, Chukwuogo-Roy represented the United Kingdom at the European Council Committee in Paris, advising on Contemporary African Art and Artists. In December that year, she also instigated and organised the “Celebrate” Exhibition for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja.
Chinwe was a founder member of the renowned Sudbourne Printmakers, involving several leading Suffolk artists.
In December 2012, after a lengthy illness with cancer, she died at her home in Hacheston, near Framlingham, Suffolk.
Style and concepts
Chukwuogo-Roy created paintings, prints and sculptures that are predominantly figurative, in the genres of portraiture, still-life, landscape and narrative subjects. Her naturalistic portraiture is usually optimistic or celebratory in tone. However, she also created many works that, according to Sandra Gibson, writing for Nerve, elicit “complex feelings of desperation, dread and aspiration”. Notable among such works are her “Migrants” series and her “African Slave Trade” series.
Collections and exhibitions
Examples of Chukwuogo-Roy’s work are held in many public and private art collections, including that of Queen Elizabeth II, and that of Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria.
Chukwuogo-Roy exhibited throughout Britain, as well as internationally. Her work is represented in public and private collections in Antigua, Argentina, Australia, France, Grenada, Ireland, Kenya, Malaysia, Moçambique, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and USA. She had many solo exhibitions including those at Christchurch Mansions, Ipswich; The Mall Galleries, London; The Royal Commonwealth Society, London; Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia; Reve’s Cork Street Gallery, London; Connecticut University, Connecticut; Didi Museum, Lagos; UNESCO, Paris; Aldeburgh Festival Gallery, Suffolk; Colchester and Ipswich Museum Saatchi Gallery; Suffolk,
Chukwuogo-Roy’s portrait of the 1990–2000 Commonwealth Secretary-General Emeka Anyaoku was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999 and hangs alongside the Golden Jubilee portrait of the monarch herself in Marlborough House. There has been a permanent exhibition of her work in the Menzies & Hancock Rooms at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study since May 2006.
Recognition and awards
Chukwuogo-Roy won many awards and was featured prominently in the international media, both for her art and also for her charitable and educational work with young people. A biography entitled Chinwe Roy – Artist, published by Tamarind Books, is now studied by children in the UK as part of the National Curriculum.
In 2003, Chukwuogo-Roy was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of East Anglia.
Her work appeared on the national postage stamps of seven countries during 2006. In 2008, she was invited to address the Cambridge Union. In 2010 Chukwuogo-Roy was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for her contributions to Art.
Odinigwe Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu (14 July 1917 – 5 February 1994), better known as Ben Enwonwu was a Nigerian painter and sculptor. He is one of the pioneers whose career opened the way for the postcolonial proliferation and increased visibility of modern African art. His work has been exhibited around the world. The Enwonwu crater on the planet Mercury is named in his honour.
Ben Enwonwu was born a twin on 14 July 1917 into the noble family of Umueze-Aroli in Onitsha, Nigeria. His father, Omenka Odigwe Emeka Enwonwu, was a technician who worked with the Royal Niger Company; he was also a member of the Onitsha Council of Chiefs and a traditional sculptor of repute. He was a reputable traditional sculptor who created office stools and decorated doors with religious images. His mother, Ilom was a successful cloth merchant.
In 1934, Enwonwu studied Fine Arts under Kenneth C. Murray at Government Colleges, Ibadan and Umuahia, 1934–37. Murray was an education officer in charge of art education in the colonial civil service and later director of antiquities. Enwonwu attended Goldsmith College, London, in 1944, then continued his studies at Ruskin College, Oxford, England, from 1944 to 1946, at Ashmolean College and Slade School of Fine Arts, Oxford, 1946–48, graduating with first-class honours. During their time together, Enwonwu became Murray’s assistant and was recognized as one of the most gifted and technically proficient student of the “Murray Group”. In 1937, Murray exhibited Enwonwu’s work at the Zwemmer Gallery in London The period of study under Murray marked the beginning of Enwonwu’s formal education in art. He took postgraduate courses in anthropology and ethnography at the University of California and Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.
Enwonwu graduated from the Slade Art School with a diploma in Fine Art and earned honors in Sculpture. One year later, he received his Master’s of Art degree in Social Anthropology at the University College in London. Nkiru Nzegwu states that the racist atmosphere he encountered during his stay in England sparked his interest in entering this program. Anthropology offered a space for the scientific study of the races, their physical and mental characteristics, customs, and social relationships. In 1969, he received his Doctorate Degree from Ahmadu Bello.
After working with Murray for many years, he was hired as a teacher at the [Government College of Umuahia]. According to Sylvester Ogbechie, author of “Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist”, Murray was displeased with the university’s choice to provide Enwonwu with the same salary as the other seasoned teachers. This created a rift between mentor and mentee. Eventually Murray left Government College and Enwonwu replaced him as art teacher. He continued his work as an art teacher in other various schools, including mission school in Calabar Province (1940–41), and Edo College, Benin City (1941–43). He was art adviser to the Nigerian government from 1948. During the years following 1950, he toured and lectured in the United States, and executed many commissions as a freelance artist. From 1949 to 1954, Enwonwu held many art exhibitions within London, Lagos, Milan, New York City, Washington D.C., and Boston. During her visit to Nigeria in 1956, Queen Elizabeth II commissioned and sat for a portrait sculpture by the artist. During the Royal Society of British Artists exhibition in London of 1957, he unveiled the bronze sculpture. In 1959, Enwonwu was appointed Supervisor in the Information Service Department office in Nigeria. He was a fellow of Lagos University, Lagos (1966–68), cultural advisor to the Nigeria government (1968–71), and visiting artist at the Institute of African Studies at Howard University, Washington, DC. He was appointed the first professor of Fine Arts at the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, from 1971 to 1975. He was also art consultant to the International Secretariat, Second World Black, and the African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in Lagos of 1977.
He executed portraits of Nigerians as private commissions, and illustrated Amos Tutuola’s The Brave African Huntress. He maintained a studio in London and was a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, London, and a member of Royal Academy of Arts, London.
Impact on the modern art world
During his time, Enwonwu was well regarded as an artist; his art is described as a “unique form of African modernism”. Ogbechie describes his art as “[the opening up of] third space in art history whose nature and parameters are at variance with art history’s exclusionary narratives of modernity and its inscription of the modern artist-subject as a white, Western European male”. Recognition of his bronze sculpture of the Queen proved that he, as an African modern artist, used his practice to develop a new kind of modern art whose ideals of representation and notions of artistic identity were different from conventional art-historical narrative of European modernist practice.
1956 – Bronze sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II
1964 – Sango: the Yoruba god of lightning and thunder
1973 – Tutu
1986 – Risen Christ: was displayed University of Ibadan but was torched as a result of a political-religious tensions.
Enwonwu’s work is displayed in the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos. His works can also be viewed at the Virtual Museum of Modern Nigerian Art.
1944- Shell Petroleum Scholarship: to study in the United Kingdom
1954- National Merit Award: for academic and intellectual attainment in Nigeria
1958 – Commonwealth Certificate in London: for contributions to art by the Royal Institute of Art
1971 – Officer of the National Order of the Republic in Senegal
1980- National Order of Merit in Nigeria: for contributions to art in Nigeria.
Michael Akhaine Osebhajimete Omoighe (born October 11, 1958 in Nigeria) lives in Lagos, Nigeria; he is a Nigerian painter, curator, art critic and teacher of art.
Mike Omoighe studied at Yaba College of Technology (1978, ND); at Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi (1980, HND); at the University of Lagos – UNILAG (1987, Certificate in Polytechnic Management (CPM) NBTE)) and at the University of Ibadan (1994, Master’s degree in Visual Arts Communication) M.C.A.) He is a pupil of the painter and grafic artist Bruce Onobrakpeya. Since 1986 he has been a teacher of painting and drawing at the Yaba College of Technology. He has been the Head of the Department of Fine Art, and Dean, School of Art, Design and Printing. Currently, he is the Dean of Student Affairs at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos Nigeria. Omoighe is also the Nigerian President of the International Association of Art Critics, AICA. He is married to the painter Titi Omoighe with children.
1980, Auchi, Bendel State; 1982, National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos; 1983, Goethe-Institut, Lagos; 1984, Italian Cultural Centre, Lagos; Scruples; 28 Bode Thomas, Surulere, Lagos; 1988, Italian Cultural Centre, Lagos; 1990, Alliance Francaise, Kano; Journey Through Savannah, Didi Museum, Lagos, Nigeria; 1993, Emotion, National Museum, Onikan, Lagos; 1996, Beijing Series – Chevron Lekki Lagos; 1996/97, Jacinta’s Place, Probyn Street Ikoyi Lagos (Salon); 2000,Survival Romance, National Gallery of Art, Iganmu, Lagos, Nigeria; 2005, Seasons and Chain of Coincidences, National Museum, Lagos.
Bruce Obomeyoma Onobrakpeya (born 30 August 1932) is a Nigerian printmaker, painter and sculptor. He has exhibited at the Tate Modern in London, the National Museum of African Art of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Malmö Konsthall in Malmö, Sweden. The National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos has an exhibit of colourful abstract canvases by Onobrakpeya.
Onobrakpeya was born in Agbarha-Otor in Delta State, son of an Urhobo carver He was raised as a Christian, but also learned the traditional beliefs. His family moved to [Benin City]],[Edo State]] when he was a child.He attended Western boys High School, where he was taught art by Edward Ivehivboje, among other subjects. He also attended drawing classes at the British Council Art Club in Benin City. Onobrakpeya was inspired by the watercolour paintings of Emmanuel Erabor. After leaving high school, Onobrakpeya was hired as an art teacher at the Western Boys High School (1953–1956). In 1956 he left for [Ondo City|Ondo], where he taught at the Ondo Boys High School for a year.
Formal art education
In October 1957 Onobrakpeya was admitted to the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, now the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Funded by a Federal Government Scholarship, Onobrakpeya was trained in the Western tradition of representational art. At the same time, he began to experiment with forms in relation to Nigerian folklore, myths and legends. Much of his work uses stylistic elements and compositions derived from traditional African sculpture and decorative arts.
The Zaria Arts Society, later called the Zaria Rebels, was formed on 9 October 1958 by a group of art students at the college led by Uche Okeke with the aim of “decolonizing” the visual arts as taught by expatriate Europeans. Onobrakpeya has said that the college gave him technical skills but the Zaria Arts Society, a discussion group, shaped his perspectives as a professional artist. The society gave him the confidence to seek a personal expressive idiom. He elongated his figures, ignored perspective and evoked the supernatural through ambiguous decorations.
1957–62 Diploma in Fine Arts (Dipl. FA), Art Teachers Certificate ATC Nigeria College of Art and Science and Technology, Zaria.
1963 Arts Teacher, St Gregory’s College, Obalende, Lagos, Nigeria
1975 Artist-in- Residence, Haystack Mountain School of Art and Craft, Maine US A.
1979 Associate Professor, Elizabeth City state University, North Carolina US A.
1984 Artist-in- Residence, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
1989 Artist-in- Residence, Tacoma Public school, Tacoma Washington State USA
1991 Artist-in- Residence, BAT Visual arts Studio, National Gallery of Zimbabwe
1991 Artist-in- Residence, 1991 MOJA, an African American Arts festival, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
1998 Founded the Annual Harmattan Workshop Series in Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, Nigeria
Onobrakpeya later attended a series of printmaking workshops in Ibadan, Oshogbo, Ife and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Maine, US. His first one-man exhibition was held in 1959 in Ughelli in the Niger Delta. Later he exhibited in the US, Italy, Zimbabwe, Germany, Britain, Kenya and elsewhere. Onobrakpeya was an important force in the renaissance in contemporary art in Nigeria. For many years he taught at St. Gregory’s College, Lagos.
Onobrakpeya created the Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation, of which he is President, and which organises the annual Harmattan workshop in his home town of Agbara Otor, Delta State. The foundation is an artist-led Non-Governmental Organization formed in 1999. It aims to encourage the growth of art and culture by giving artists opportunities to gain skills, while increasing public awareness of African art and its benefits to society. The foundation organised the Amos Tutuola Show, Lagos (2000). It has participated in many other shows.
“Bruce Onobrakpeya is among the most successful artists to have emerged in West Africa during the 20th century, with continuing and commanding influence on the generation of artists in Nigeria, who have come to maturity in the post colonial period.”
Onobrakpeya received an honorary D. Litt. from the University of Ibadan in 1989. He received an honourable mention at the Venice Biennale. He was honoured with the Fellowship of the Society of Nigerian Artists on 6 June 2000. He was honoured with the Pope John Paul II award for painting the life of Saint Paul, the Fellowship of Asele Institute award, the Sadam Hussein award, the Solidra Circle award, and Fulbright Exchange Scholar award. Onobrakpeya is the recipient of the Living Human Treasure Award (2006) given by UNESCO, and on 14 September 2010 became the second winner of Nigeria’s prestigious Nigerian Creativity Award by the Federal Government of Nigeria. Its first winner was Chinua Achebe.
A definitive work on the art of Bruce Onobrakpeya would have to be an intense exercise. Each of these segments represents specific periods in the artist’s studio practice, which spans a period of over 50 years.
The first segment is the Mythical Realism (1957–1962), which represents paintings, and lino cut prints that depict folklore themes, and Northern landscapes (Zaria). This is the period of his early development as an’ artist, which coincided with Nigeria’s Independence. The idea of projecting the African personality was of major importance to the artists of this period. It was also at this time that the Zaria Arts Society, the forerunner of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), was formed and accompanied by the propagation of the concept of “natural synthesis”. Works in this category include the paintings: Awhaire & the Bird, Hunters Secret, and A Tree in Northern Landscape, and the Lino Cut Prints Zaria Indigo, Two Faces, Boli Woman and Awakening (Negritude)
The second segment focuses on the artist’s workshop experiments and his Bronzed lino relief series otherwise known as the Sunshine Period (1962–1967). This is the period when he started to attend various workshops. Some of the popular works of this period include Leopard in a Cornfield (Iino print), Scarecrow (silkscreen) and Man & Two Wives (silkscreen)
The Mask and the Cross (1967–1978) series represents the period when the artist executed several Christian themes commissioned by the Church such as Nativity II (Iino engraving), The Last Days of Christ (plastocast), Obara Ishoshi (bronzed Iino relief) and Pope John Paul (metal foil)., as well as the Plastography Period, a time when the artist developed a lot of ideas he started in Zaria in the late 1950s and early 1960s such as Travellers II, Songs of Life, and Rain & Cry at Otorogba.
The fourth segment represents the historical vignettes. These are pictures known as the Symbols of Ancestral Groves (1978–1984) They depict historical figures, mostly royalty from the Benin Kingdom such as Oba Aka. Other works in this period include Eghrighri and Ibiebe.
The Sahelian Masquerades (1984–1988) were pieces created to highlight the destruction of the environment These works focused on the cultures of the Sahelian regions Works in this period are also loaded with a lot of political undertones such as Horns Of Freedom, and Edjo Aton (principles of good governance), which draws a lot of attention to role of government in relation to the issues of desertification.
The Mask Series (1990–1995) represent the development of images, which inspired depictions of masks treated in different print media that bring out the philosophies of the people. They also address’ the subject of change. Images I and /I as well as A Panel of 15 represent this period.
Social Unrest (1995–1999) is the period of strife within the society. This is represented by large paintings, which are prayers for divine help against military dictatorship and political instability. Here we have drawings and pictures, which focus on the murder of Ken Saro Wiwa. On the front burner. are the ecological and socio-economic problems. In this segment you have works like Ekugbe (Unity), Nude & Protest and Smoke from the Broken Pipe
Finally we enter the Installations Period (1995 – Date), which is the period the artist embarked on installations as an art form. These works are characterised by the arrangement of different discarded materials to create works of art. These installations were essentially to draw attention to importance of protecting our environment. Works in this category include Animals of Eve, Adjene, New City III and Voices of silenced Voices.
Since 1966, as an experimental artist, Onobrakpeya has discovered, innovated and perfected several techniques both in printmaking and relief sculpture that are uniquely Nigerian. Generally, printmaking is a fine art process of producing pictures from a plate which the artist has previously created. Having conceived the idea, the artist then creates an image or images on a plate through any of the printmaking techniques. The images are then transferred onto a paper or any other surface by printing or embossing method. The advantage is that the artist can use one of such plates to produce as many copies of the artwork as required, sometimes giving them various colours. Onobrakpeya has increased the techniques tremendously.
Bronzed lino Relief is a collage of used lino blocks with bronze colour patina. Onobrakpeya developed this relief technique in 1966 as a way of preserving used blocks which in themselves possess sculptural qualities.
Plastocast Relief is a painted low relief design which had been cast with resin. The idea started as an extension of the bronzed lino relief. The used plastograph plates (like used lino blocks) have sculptural low relief effects which make them unique as art works. An attempt to retain the original used plates, and at the same time give collectors a chance to possesses and share the beauty of the original, led Onobrakpeya to develop a method of creating other original plates from existing used plates through the use of plaster of Paris. Sometimes, small plates with the same or similar themes are arranged together and cast to form a larger picture. A further development in plastocast relief is carving directly on abandoned or congealed plaster of Paris then applying resin on the cast and pulling out a positive. However for a deep engraving on plaster of Paris to produce bold relief, depends on the nature of the plaster of Paris. This is known as plastocast plate. It is painted or tinted plastocast plate that becomes a plastocast relief.
Plastograph is a term given by Onobrakpeya to describe his deep etching technique which he innovated in 1967 through what he referred to as the Hydrochloric Acid Accident. It is an engraving on a low relief surface made of zinc or similar surface material and printed in the intaglio style.
Additive Plastograph is another technique that involves making of print images on a sheet of sand paper, using glue as a drawing medium. This is glued to the sand paper using intensive solar heat. Ink is then applied to the resultant images by the intaglio inking process. any link in excess is wiped off with a dry cloth. This is later taken to the press to register the relief already created by the glue on a soaked and semi-dried cartridge printing paper. Finally, the registered impressions are painted, using pastel oil to achieve the desired forms by the artist.
Metal Foil Deep Etching is a plastograph print in which aluminium foil is used to draw the engraved images. The thin foil is cut and placed on an engraved plate and then the embossed sheet is removed, turned over and filled with resin to stabilise the relief. The resin filled foil is then laminated on plywood or no any other surface. Onobrakpeya first started experimenting with foils and from the experiments transformed the foils into a print medium in the 1980s. He used already printed plates to try out the technique.
Metal Foil Relief Print is a three dimensional metal foil print drawn on a plastocast plate. A fairly thick foil is cut and placed over a plate and hand pressed to transfer the shape of the picture on the plate. The foil is then removed and filled from behind. It is then laminated onto a plywood and coloured in the same way as the metal foil deep etching print process already discussed above. Note that while the metal foil deep etching print is drawn from plastograph plates, the metal foil relief print is hand embossed on a plastograph plate.
Ivorex is a new technique recently developed by Onobrakpeya which simulates optical effect of old ivory engraving on bone or elephant tusk. The material used, however, is polymer.
Ibiebe Alphabets and Ideograms
Ibiebe is a writing style developed by Onobrakpeya. It features his invented script of ideographic geometric and curvilinear glyphs. The designs reflect the artist’s knowledge of his Urhobo heritage, rich in symbols and the proverbs they elicit, as well as his appreciation of Chinese, Japanese, Ghanaian and Nigerian calligraphy. Onobrakpeya invented and refined this script called Ibiebe from 1978 to 1986, when he revisited in his art, ideas linked with traditional religion, customs and history. Ibiebe glyphs aim at encapsulating universal concepts of timeless values. The artist clearly delights in the script’s forms and visual qualities as well as its power to communicate. These ibiebe ideograms which are often abstract, also lend themselves to calligraphic, painterly and sculptural presentation.
1959 First one-man exhibition, Ughelli, Delta State, Nigeria.
1960 Group show of contemporary Nigerian art in the Independence Exhibition, Lagos.
1962 Art From Africa, Phelp-Stokes Fund, New York.
1965 Commonwealth Exhibition of Art, Cardiff and London.
1967 Biennale of Illustrations, Bratislavia.
1967 Group show of nine Nigerian artists. Show toured London, Moscow and Warsaw.
1969 International Book Fair, Bologna
1970 St. Andrew’s School, Middletown, Delaware Howard University, Washington, D.C.
1971 Commonwealth Art Gallery, London.
1972 Gallery, Watatu, Nairobi Newark State College, Newark, New Jersey Art Society of the International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C.
1973 Afro Centrum Gallery, Berlin.African Heritage Gallery, Nairobi
Feb 1974 Contemporary African, Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. Exhibition of contemporary developments in art of Africa. Exhibited alongside Ibrahim El Salahi, Skunder Boghossian, Twins Seven Seven,Valante Malangatana and a few others
1974 Contemporary African Festival, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, and Museum of Natural History, New York.
1975 Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Washington, D.C. Sponsored by African- American, Women’s Association.
1976 Gallery of Litterio Calapai, Glencoe, Illinois.
1977 The Best of Africa, Toronto Saint Paul in Contemporary Art, Vatican Museum, Rome
1978 Tenth one-man exhibition at the Goethe Institute, Lagos.
1979 Held a one-man exhibition of prints in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. The show was arranged by Mrs. DeVries and sponsorship was by DHV of Lagos and Amersfoort. It was opened by Professor Ru Van Rossem of Tilburg University.
1980 Held a one-man exhibition of prints (with emphasis on printing on metal foil) at the Best of Africa Gallery, Toronto, Canada.
1980 One-man exhibition in Glatt Centrum, Zurish, Switzerland. It was sponsored by CIBA-GEIGY and SGS.
1981–1982 One-man exhibition of prints and paintings arranged by Galarie Glahe and opened by Nigerian Ambassador to Germany H.E. Mohammed Lawal Rafindadi, in Bonn, Germany.
1983 Held a one-man exhibition of prints and painting titled Sabbatical Experiments 1978–1983, co-sponsored by Goethe Institute (German Cultural Institute) NIJ House, Victoria Island, Lagos, and the Society of Nigerian Artists (Lagos State Branch). The guest of honour at the opening was Susanne Wenger from Oshogbo.
1984 Held a one-man exhibition titled Bruce Onobrakpeya: 25 years of creative search, at the Foyer and Courtyard of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan.
1984 Held a one-man show of plastograph, prints and plastocast relief paintings to mark the Netherlands/Belgium Week at Goethe Institute Victoria Island, Lagos.
1988 Exhibition of Sahelian Masquerades, Italian Cultural Institute Lagos
1989 The Sahelian Masquerade was shown in: Kew Garden London, Greenwich Citizen Gallery near London, and Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington State.
1990 Participation in Group show titled African Contemporary Art-Changing Traditions, organised by studio Museum, Harlem, New York. Participated in the 44th Venice Biennale.
1990 Riegelsberger Gallery Mannheim, Germany. A show of recent art works sponsored by ABB (Asea Brown Boveri).
1990 Unity Through Arts, National Museum Onikan, Lagos sponsored by Guinness (Nigeria) Limited.
1991 Sahelian Masquerade, exhibition in National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Gibbes Museum of Art Charleston, South Carolina, USA, College of Charleston, South Carolina, USA, African American Gallery Charleston, South Carolinas, USA
1992 Bruce Onobrakpeya : A retrospective. One of the events which was organised by Society of Nigerian Artists to mark the artist’s 60th birthday at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos.
1993 The Spirit in Ascent accompanied with a 270-page monograph, a press conference and a symposium were sponsored by The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited and launched by Chief Philip Asiodu, Hon. Secretary of Petroleum and National Resources at the NIIA Victoria Island, Lagos. The Society of Nigerian Artists was a co-organizer of the events.
1994 Inaugural Group Show at the Pushkin Art and Antique Gallery Victoria Island, Lagos
1995 Seven Stories About Modern Art in Africa – Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. One of the events of Britain’s global showcase Africa ’95.
1996 Seven Stories About Modern Art in Africa – Malmo Konsthall, Malmo, Sweden. Ivorex Engravings including the Shrine II entered for the Seven Stories About Modern Art exhibited in London and Malmo.
1996 Onobrakpeya at Singletary Gallery & African Art Museum; Portsmouth, Virginia, USA Exhibition opening was accompanied by presentation of paper by son titled “Footprints of the Tiger”
1998 Wise Art Gallery, Norfolk State University, USA 1998 “Ovuomaroro” at Elizabeth City State University, North Carolina, USA
1998 Christine Gerlach Show, German Community, Abuja, Nigeria.
1999 Exhibition of prints and paintings Alliance Francaise, Ikoyi, Lagos. Promoter of Nigerian Art-Goethe Institute, Victoria Island, Lagos. Christine Gerlach Show, German Community, Abuja, Nigeria.
1999 Amos Tutuola Show – Folklore inspired art in Honour of the novelist – Aina Onabolu House, National Gallery of Art, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
2000 Exhibition of paintings, prints sculptures, installations etc. by Otu-Ewena Artists, Aina Onabolu, Building National Theatre Complex, Iganmu, Lagos.
2000 Onobrakpeya at the Armstrong/Slater Gallery, Virginia, USA
2001 Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis – Tate Modern Gallery London. 2001 Bruce Onobrakpeya at Singletary Gallery & African Art Museum; Portsmouth, Virginia, USA
2001 “Two Identities: Printmakers Bruce Onobrakpeya and Mitzi Humphrey” at Visual Arts Center, TCC at Olde Towne, Portsmouth, Virginia.
2002 Exhibition of paintings, Sculpture Mixed Media prints ceramics and installations by Otu-Ewena Artists International, Aina Onabolu, Building National Theatre Complex, Iganmu. Exhibition was in honour of Onobrakpeya at 70.
2002 Bruce Onobrakpeya : Window Into his Art: Retrospective Exhibition of selected works from various periods of his artistic career spanning 1957 to date, held at the National Gallery of Art, Aina Onabolu Building, National Theatre Complex, Iganmu, Lagos
2002 Exhibition: Rhythms of the Forge: A presentation of the fourth Harmattan Workshop Series (Agbarha Otor), at the French Cultural Center, Kingsway Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. The presentation comprised lectures demonstrations, seminar and exhibition of artworks selected from the Four Harmattan Workshops so far held i.e. 1998,1999,2000 & 2002.
2002 Exhibition: Jewels of the Crucible: This exhibition presented works produced at the 4th Harmattan Workshop, showcasing recent developments in jewellery bronze casting, wood carving and several other media. Works of the Otu Ewena Artists International were also shown at the Nimbus art Center, Maitama Sule Street, Ikoyi Lagos.
2002 Participated in Exhibition: Rhythms of Fulfilment organised by Akwa Ibom Chapter of the Society of Nigerian Artists. Exhibition was in honour of Onobrakpeya at 70 and was opened by Governor Victor Obong Attah of Akwa Ibom State and featured the works of over 30 artists.
2002 Ways of the Rivers: Arts and Environment of the Niger Delta: Showed Installation Akporode at the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. Exhibition expected to tour various cities in the US
2003 Celebrate Exhibition: Abuja, Nigeria: As major contributor to the CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) Exhibition organised by lead artist Chinwe Chukwuogo-Roy MBE and John Sheeran.
2004 Onobrakpeya at Singletary Gallery & African Art Museum; Portsmouth, Virginia, USA
2004The Harvest of the Harmattan Retreat Exhibition organised in collaboration with the Pan African University, Lagos.
2004–2006 Where Gods and Mortals Meet: Continuity and Renewal in Urhobo Art, New York, Columbia, S.C. and Washington D.C., USA
May 2004 Art and Democracy, a group exhibition mounted during 5th anniversary of Democracy in Nigeria; held at Nelrose Hotel, Asaba, Delta State.
2006 Jewels of Nomadic Images, held at Quintessence Gallery, Falomo, Ikoyi, Lagos.
2008 Auction / Exhibition organised by Arthouse Contemporary Limited, at Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos.
2008 October Rain. Society of Nigerian Artists (S.N.A) group exhibition – Held at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos.
2008 Auction / Exhibition organised by Arthouse Contemporary Limited, at Civic Centre,Victoria Island, Lagos.
2008 Art Expo, organised by Art Gallery Association of Nigeria (AGAN) in conjunction with National Gallery of Art (NGA), held at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos.
March 2010 Africa Now. Auction/ Exhibition at Bonhams, Manhattan, New York CityA.
2010 Retrospective Exhibition of Bruce Onobrakpeya titled : The Legacy at the Grillo Pavilion in Ikorodu, Lagos Nigeria.
2010, ‘Evolving Currents”, Art exhibition in celebration of 50 years of Nigerian visual arts in honour of 50 years of Independence. Exhibition was organised by Iroko Art, Abuja, Nigeria.
Nov. 2011, “Beyond Imagination” An Exhibition of Artworks by Nigerian Masters (Artists exhibited include Ben Enwonwu, Twins seven Seven, Muraino Oyelami, Erhabor Emokpai, Bruce Onobrakpeya and a few others) at the Thought Pyramid Exhibition Center, Abuja, Nigeria.
May 2012, Bruce Onobrakpeya and the Harmattan Experiment, (artists exhibited included Onobrakpeya, Sam Ovraiti, Duke Asidere, Juliet Ezenwa Maja Pearse and a few other past participants of the Annual Harmattan Workshop) at Kadjinol Station during the Dakar 2012 Biennale, Senegal.
Aug. 2012, “Ore Ijubilee (Jubilee Festival)”. A Solo Exhibition of Selected works at Nike Gallery, Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria
Oct. 2013, “Jewels of Nomadic Images”, Exhibition of works in various media by Bruce Onobrakpeya at the Skoto Gallery, New York City.
Nov. 2012, “Totems of the Delta:Culture and Environment” Annual Convocation Fine Art Exhibition, Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. Exhibition was Curated by Dr.O.I. Pogoson
Dec 2012, 5th Edition of International Art Expo, Lagos, organised by Art Galleries Association of Nigeria (AGAN) in honour of Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya at 80, exhibition featured selected works by Bruce Onobrakpeya. Exhibition took place at The National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Onikan, Lagos, Nigeria, and was declared open by Mr. Sam Olagbaju.
Feb 2013, Faculty of Arts: Art Exhibition, East Wing Basement, Ugbowo Campus, University of Benin, Edo State, Nigeria. Exhibition was accompanied by lecture Artistic Odyssey: Printmaking as an Expression of Life’s Adventures by Prof Bruce Onobrakpeya.
2014, Dubai Art fair, curated by Mydrim Art Gallery.
2015, Art in the Nigerian Century – an Exhibition on Nigerian Contemporary art, Lagos, Nigeria, curated by Adhiambo Odaga of Clear Coast Communications.
Exhibition of mixed media and prints at Temple Muse, Victoria Island Lagos.
Participated in the exhibition of Artists’ Book at the Museum for African Art Smithsonian Institution Washington D.C., U.S.A.
Body of work
Public collections holding his work
University of Lagos Library, Akoka, Lagos
Catholic Chapel, University of Ife, Ile-Ife
St. Paul’s Church, Ebute-Metta, Lagos
National Gallery of Modern Art, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos
St. John the Evangelist Church, Shogunle, Ikeja
Museum of African and African-American Art and Antiquities, Buffalo, New York
Eda Lord Demarest Memorial African Art Collection, University of Redlands
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Vatican Museum, Rome
National Museum of African Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Hvittrask Suomi – Finland (Eliel Saarinen’s Studio Home and Exhibition)
Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja
Leader of Victory Museum, Baghad, Iraq
Presidential Villa, Aso Rock, Abuja, Nigeria
National Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya
Victoria and Albert Museum London.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The British Museum London.
The Barrack Obama Collection, White House Washington D.C.
King Mohammed VI Collection Morocco.
Achebe, Chinua, No Longer At Ease, Heinemann, London
Babalola, Adeboye, Iwe Ede Yoruba, Apa Kini, Longmans of Nigeria, 1961
Ekwensi, Cyprain, An African Night’s Entertainment, AUP Lagos, 1962
Ekwensi, Cyprain, Juju Rock, AUP Lagos
Nigerian Episcopal Conference, May Your Kingdom Come, Geoffery Chamman, London, 1969
Nwankwo, Nkem, Tales Out of School, (Cover illustration), AUP, Ibadan
Onadipe, Kola, Sugar Girl, AUP, 1964
Uwemedimo, Rosemary, Akpan and the Smugglers, AUP, Ibadan, 1965
Quacoopne, T.N.O., West African Religion, AUP,Ibadan, 1969
Taiwo, Oladele, The Hunter And The Hen, AUP, Ibadan, 1969
Haeger, Barbara, Africa: On Her Schedule is Written A Change, AUP, Ibadan, 1981
Onadipe, Kola, Magic Land of the Shadows, AUP, Lagos, 1970
Soyinka and Fagunwa, A Forest of a Thousand Demons, Nelson, London
Deliss, Clementine, Seven Stories About Modern Art in Africa, White Chapel Art Gallery, London, 1985
Nzekwu, Onuora and Michael Crowder, Eze Goes to School, (Cover Illustration), AUP, Ibadan, 1986
Fagunwa, Daniel Orowole, Forest of A Thousand Daemons, City Lights, 2013 ISBN 9780872866300
DISSERTATIONS AND SOME REFERENCE MATERIALS on Bruce Onobrakpeya
AIPOH, MARY ANNE U. Religious Themes in Bruce Onobrakpeya’s Works, An unpublished dissertation presented to the Department of Fine Arts, Faculty of Arts, University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, as part of the fulfilment for the Degree B.A. (Fine Arts) 1983, 53 pages.
EKEH, PETER P. Studies in Urhobo Culture. Chapter 26: Bruce Onobrakpeya: His Art and International Reputation, by Richard A. Singletary, Ph.D. of Singletary Gallery & Aftrican Art Museum, Portsmouth, Virginia, USA, pp. 632 -681. Urhobo Historical Society (Buffalo, New York and Ikeja, Lagos Nigeria) ISBN 978-067-769-0, 768 pages with index and photo of Onobrakpeya.
FULLANI, GIOVANNI (E) San Paolo Nell” Art Contemporanea (Musei Vaticani (1977) page 112,176
FALUADE, GBOLAHAN The Art of Bruce Onobrakpeya (Unpublished Essay submitted to the Department of Fine Arts in partial fulfilment for the award of B.A. (Fine Art) University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, June 1979) 59 pages.
FOSU, KOJO 20th Century Art of Africa, 1986 published by Gaskiya Corporation Ltd., Zaira, Nigeria.
JEGEDE, DELE Trends in Contemporary Nigerian Art, A Historical Analysis, unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Indiana University Press Bloomington and London 1973.
MOUNT, MARSHAL WARD African Art: The Year Since 1920, Indiana University Press, Bloominghton and London, 1973.
ODUFEJO, C.M. SUNDAY The Art of Bruce Onobrakpeya as I See it in 1975, (unpublished HND thesis, Yaba College of Technology), June 1976 88 pages.
OKEKE EZE, EMMANUEL Bruce Onobrakpeya – A Research into the Print Experiments of a Contemporary Nigerian Artist (unpublished Bachelor of Arts thesis, University of Nigeria, Nsukka), 1976, 92 pages.
OKEKE, UCHE Art in Development – A Nigerian Perspective published by the Documentation Centre, Asele Institute Nimo, Nigeria and African American Cultural Centre, Minneapolis, USA 1982, 91 pages.
UDOMA EKPO UDO Non-Naturalistic Representation in Contemporary Nigerian Paintings (A Study of Styles and Trends), an unpublished Master of Arts Dissertation, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 1989.
OLAOSEBIKAN W.A Cultural and Creative Arts: A Source Book for Teachers, Evans Brothers (Nigeria Publishers) Ltd., Ibadan, page 38, 60, 112, 116.
OYELOLA, PAT Every man’s Guide to Nigerian Art, Nigeria. Magazine special publication, Lagos, 1976
Nigerian Artistry: Written by Pat Oyelola with foreword by Bruce Onobrakpeya, published by Mosuro Publishers 2010.
SPRING, CHRISTOPHER ANGANZA AFRIKA AFRICAN ART NOW Published by Lawrence King, 2008, pg 246–251
SIKPI, GREGORY KOFI History of Contemporary Nigerian Art (Unpublished Bachelor of Arts Degree thesis, Faculty of Arts, University of Lagos, July 1988)
WAHLMAN, MAUDE Contemporary African Art, Chicago, 1974
ROLF BROCKMANN, GERD HOTTER Szene Lago, Reise in Eine Afrikanische, Kultermetropole, Trickster Verlag 1994.
WALKER, JAMES The Black Experience in Canada, published by the Ontario Education Communications Authority, 1979, page 80.
WILLET, FRANK African Art, Thames and Hudson London, 1971.
VERNICEM. KELLY, Nigerian Artist: A who’s who and Bibliography, Published JANET L. STANLEY for the National Museum of African Art Branch Smithsonian Institution Libraries Washington, D.C. by Hans Zell London, 1993.
STANLEY, JANET L. Arts of Africa – An Annotated Bibliography Volume I & II African Studies Association Press, Atlanta, 1992, 1993
KENNEDY, JEAN New Currents, Ancient Rivers: Contemporary African Artists in a Generation of Change, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C. USA1992.
HANS D’ ORVILLE Leadership for Africa, edited, 1995 (Editor)
DUNCAN,. CLARKE African Art, Random House, New York.
PICTON, JOHN Image and Form (prints drawings and Sculpture from Southern Africa and Nigeria) School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) University of London 1997.
REVUE, NOIRE Nigeria: African Contemporary Art, No. 30,1998. (Jean Loup Pivin) Editorial
JAMES SHOAF TURNER The Dictionary of Art, MacMillian Publishers Limited, 1996. (Editor).
PAUL CHIKE DIKE & PAT OYELOLA The Zaria Art Society: A New Consciousness. National Gallery of Art. 1998.
NZEGWU NKIRU Contemporary Textures, Multidimensionality in Nigerian Art ISSA 1999.
CATHERINE KING Views of Difference: Different Views of Art Yale University Press, New Haven & London in association with The Open University 1999.
SIDNEY LITTLE FIELD KASFIR Contemporary African Art – Thames & Hudson London & New York 1999.
ISHOLA-LEMOMU, KUNLE Bruce Onobrakpeya 1990–2000 Unpublished Dissertation for the award of the Bachelor of Arts Degree, Lagoke Akintola University, Ogbomosho 2001
PAMELA MC. CLUSKY and ROBERT FARIS THOMPSON Art from Africa-Long Steps Never Broke a Back Seattle Art Museum and Princeton University Press 2002.
MARTHA G. ANDERSON And PHILIP M. PEEK Ways of the Rivers: Arts and Environment of the Niger Delta. UCLA Fowler Museum of Natural History, Los Angeles 2002.
Richard Singletary Bruce Onobrakpeya USA 2002
BARBARA PLANKENSTEINER Benin Kings and Rituals (Court Arts from Nigeria), 2007.
JEWELS OF NOMADIC IMAGES, with essays by Peju Laiwola, Ekpo Udo Udoma and Olu Amoda, published by Ovuomaroro 2009
JOHN GODWIN AND GILLIAN HOPWOOD The Architecture of Demas Nwoko, Farafina Lagos. 2009.
MASKS OF FLAMING ARROWS, Edited by Dele Jegede, with essays by David Opkako and Gani Odutokun, 5 Continents, Italy, 2013.
DOZIE IGWEZE The Story Teller of Agbarha-Otor, 2016. Bruce Onobrakpeya’s Visual Tales. Hourglass Gallery, 2016.
Films and Documentaries
FILM Kindreds Spirits: Contemporary Nigerian Artists, Smithsonian World Washington, D.C. USA
The Magic of Nigeria, Produced by Delka/Polystar directed by Ola Balogun, Lagos, Nigeria.
Recalling the Future Art by Joanna Grabski, Produced and directed by Claudine Pommier Executive Producer Cheikh Tidiane N’diaye./Arts in Action Society (Vancouver, Canada) 2002.
The Harmattan Workshop Experience: The Journey so far: film and documentary on 10 years the Agbarha- Otor Harmattan workshop Experience produced and directed by Onobrakpeya, 2009.
RedHot: Produced by Communication for Change, directed by Sandra Obiago, June 2011, Lagos, Nigeria.
Chief Jimoh Buraimoh, born as Jimoh Adetunji Buraimoh is a Nigerian painter and artist. Chief Buraimoh is one of the most influential artist to emerge from the 1960s workshops conducted by Ulli and Georgina Beier in Osogbo,Osun state, Nigeria. Since then, he has become one of the most well known artists from Osogbo.
Early Life and Education
Jimoh Buraimoh was born in Osogbo, Osun state, Nigeria in 1943 into a Muslim family. He attended the 1960’S workshops conducted by Ulli. He also was a lightning techniian in Duro Ladipo’s theater.
Jimoh Buraimoh’s works merge western media and Yoruba stye and motif. Jimoh Buraimoh is credited to being Africa’s first head painter when in 1964, he made a contemporary art form inspired by the Yoruba tradition of incorporating beadwork designs into ceremonial fabris and beaded crowns. In 1972, he represented Nigeria in the First All African Trade Fair in Nairobi, Kenya. One of his famous paintings was presented in World Festival of Black Arts, Festac ’77. He was the first Nigerian to be awarded a membership in the Contemporary World Association of Mosaic Artists.
Jimoh’s works have been exhibited both home and abroad.
Jimoh Buraimoh is also an efficient teaching artist. In 1974, he taught at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine. He also taught at the University of Bloomington and other schools in New York, Boston and Los Angeles.
Christopher Uchefuna Okeke (30 April 1933 – 5 January 2016), known as Uche Okeke, was a contemporary Nigerian artist.
Christopher Uchefuna Okeke was born on 30 April 1933 in Nimo, Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, Nigeria, to Isaac Okonkwo Okeke and Monica Mgboye Okeke (née Okoye). Between 1940 and 1953, he attended St. Peter Claver’s (Primary) School, [Kafanchan], Metropolitan College,[Onitsha], and Bishop Shanahan College, [Orlu, Nigeria|Orl], during which time he had already begun to demonstrate an avid interest in drawing and painting. Before being admitted to read Fine Art at Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, now Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Okeke had already exhibited taxidermy work during the Field Society meeting in Jos Museum, participated in the preparation and presentation of Nigerian Drawings and Paintings with Bernard Fagg as curator and had a solo exhibition of drawings and paintings, in Jos and Kaduna with Sir Ahmadu Bello in attendance.
As an undergraduate in 1958, Okeke together with [Yusuf Grillo], [Bruce Onobrakpeya], [Demas Nwoko] and others, inaugurated the Zaria Art Society. In that same year he opened a cultural centre at 30 Ibadan Street, Kafanchan, which later became the Asele Institute, Nimo, where among other cultural activities a part of the Smithsonian Institution-sponsored educational film Nigerian Art – Kindred Spirits was shot in 1996.
In the early 1970s when he was appointed lecturer and acting head of Fine Arts Department at the [University of Nigeria, Nsukka], he reviewed the entire course programme introducing new courses and research into Igbo Uli art tradition. In 1973, he also designed the first course programme of the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Institute of Management and Technology, [Enugu], and initiated postgraduate courses in the Department of Fine Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
He the Director of the Institute of African Studies at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, a visiting Professor to the Department of Creative Arts, University of Port Harcourt, Honorary Deputy Director-General (Africa) of International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, among numerous other engagements with many educational and cultural institutions in different parts of the world.
He inspired many Nigerian artists and Africanist art historians, including some of the world’s avant-garde.
That Okeke carried the Uli experiment beyond the walls of Zaria and stood in the forefront of its transformation into a modern idiom in the 1970s, from the studios at Nsukka was original. He is a father figure in the history of Nigerian modernism.
Okeke died on 5 January 2016 in his native home at Nimo at the age of 82.
1958 to date Founder and Director, Asele Institute and Documentation Center, Nimo, Nigeria.
1986–2006 Visiting professor and external examiner, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Obafemi Awolowo University (formerly University of Ife).
Federal Polytechnic, Oko. Imo State University, Owerri, Nigeria.
1970–85 University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria. Positions held; Acting Head of Department, Fine and Applied Arts Department Dean Faculty of Arts Director, Institute of African Studies.
1981–82 Honorary Fellow, Department of Textile and Clothing Design, and Art History, University Minnesota, USA (1 year sabbatical leave).
1968 Refugee Affairs Committee, Aba, Nigeria.
1964–67 Director, Mbari Art Centre, Uwani, Enugu, Nigeria.
1964–66 Artistic Director and Designer, Enugu Musical Society, Enugu, Nigeria.
1961–62 Freelance artist and Director, Cultural Centre, Kafanchan, Nigeria.
1961 Publications Artist, Federal Ministry of Information, Lagos.
1959 Founder/Director, Cultural Centre Kafanchan (now Asele Institute Nimo), Nigeria.
1958-61 Founder/First Secretary/Second President, Art Society, Nigerian College of Arts Science and Technology, Zaria, Nigeria.
1955–57 Clerk, Department of Labour, Jos and Lagos, Nigeria.
1956 Organising Assistant, Exhibition of Nigerian Painting and Drawing, Jos Museum, Jos, Nigeria.
1954–55 Designer, visual aids, St. Peter Claver’s Catholic and College of Mary Immaculate Heart Practicing Schools, Kafanchan, Nigeria.
2010 Artcurial Auction, Paris, France.Arthouse Contemporary Limited Auction, Lagos, Nigeria.
2009 Arthouse Contemporary Limited Auction, Lagos, Nigeria.
2008 Arthouse Contemporary Limited Auction, Lagos, Nigeria.
2006 Another Modernity: Works on Paper by Uche Okeke, Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, USA.
2003 Retrospective solo exhibition, Pendulum Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria
1982 Contemporary Nigerian Prints, Drawings and Paintings: Uche Okeke. Katherine E. Nash Gallery, University of Minneapolis, Twin Cities, Minnesota, USA.Homage to Asele, Exhibition of Prints, Drawings and Paintings: Uche Okeke, African American Cultural Centre, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.
1979 Retrospective Exhibition of Drawings and Prints, German Cultural Centre, Lagos, Nigeria.
1978 GraphikAus Nigeria, Germany.
1963 Exhibition of Mosaics and stained glass window, Franz Mayer and Company, Munich, Germany.
1962 Exhibition of drawings, Rott am Inn, Germany.
2010 Nigerian 50th Independence Exhibition, Abuja, Nigeria.Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic, Tate Modern, Liverpool.
NIVATOUR, Group Exhibition by the National Gallery of Art, Abuja, Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt.
2009 Society of Nigerian Artists Anniversary Exhibition, Omenka Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria.Group Exhibition in honour of Chinua Achebe and the 50th anniversary of Things Fall Apart.
2008 ARESUVA, National Gallery of Art, Abuja, Nigeria.
2006 Another Modernity: Works on paper by Uche Okeke, Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, USA.
2002 Poetics of Line: Seven Artists of the Nsukka Group, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, USA.
1995 Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London.
1977 Exhibition of African Contemporary Art, Howard University, Department of Art, College of Fine Arts, Washington D.C. USA.Exhibition of Nigerian Contemporary Art (FESTAC), National Council for Arts and Culture, Lagos.
1976 Joint Exhibition of prints and textiles, Department of Human Environment and Design/African Studies Centre, Kresge Gallery, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan USA.
1974 African Prints, an Exhibition of Contemporary African Art, Kresge Art Gallery, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA.
1972 Group Exhibition, Nasprstek Museum, Prague, Czechoslovakia.
1969 Kunst aus Biafra, Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bonn, Trier, Dortmund, Essen and Munich, Germany.
1966 World Festival of Negro Arts Exhibition, Dakar, Senegal
1967 Drei Kreuzwege – Drei Kontinente, with Hansen-Bahia (Germany) and Vivial Ellis (USA), Munich, Germany.
1964 Group Exhibition, Harmon Foundation Inc., New York, USA.
1963/64 Three-man show with Ibrahim el-Salahi (Sudan) and Valente Malagantana (Mozambique), Committee for Cultural Freedom, India and Pakistan.
1962 Group Exhibition, Rhodes National Gallery, Salisbury, Rhodesia.Gallery Lambert, Paris, France.
Ugandan Independence Art Exhibition, Kampala.
2015 OIS Services passport and Visa Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa.
1989 Oko Cross, St. John’s Anglican Church, Oko, Anambra State.Portraits of Father Iwene Tansi, commissioned by the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Onitsha, Anambra State
1976 Park and fountain designs for the Open Spaces Development Commission, Anambra State.
1975 Fourteen Stations of the Cross, St Peter’s Catholic Church chapel, University of Nigeria Nsukka.
1971–74 Designed Archbishop’s Throne and portals, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Onitsha, Anambra State.
1971 Designed and produced carved wooden doors for Holy Trinity Cathedral, Onitsha, Anambra State.
1967 Stage design for television serial, Heritage, ENTV production.
1966 EDI Sculpture, Enugu Campus, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.Film titles design, Eastern Nigeria Information Service’s Film Division, Enugu, Nigeria.
Sketch designs for the wrought-metal screen wall, Anglican Church chapel, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Designed robes for the Presbyterian Church Choir, Uwani, Enugu.
1965 Illustrated Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall ApartDesigned book jacket and cover for John Munonye’s The Only Son
1964 Designed Boys Scouts of Nigeria BadgesDesigned Oil Murals and Paintings for the Eastern Nigeria Central Library, Children’s Section. Theme: Animals in Procession.
1962–63 Three murals in mosaic and stained glass for Franz Meyer and Company, Munich, Germany.
1961 Mural for the Mbari Artists and Writers Club House and Gallery, Ibadan, Nigeria.
1960 Mother Nigeria and Her Children, mural for Independence Exhibition, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.
2009 Federal Government Award for distinguished service in the Arts and Culture Sector.
2001 Presidential award of MFR by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
1977 Prize for Terra Cotta Sculpture titled Dance of Unity, Murtala Mohammed International Sculpture competition,Lagos.
1973 British Council Bursary Award
1972 Illustrator of the Year 1972, for Tales of Land of Death, Igbo Folk Tales, published by Doubleday, New York, awarded by National UNESCO Commission’s Book of the Year competition.
1971 Drama award by the African Studies Centre, University of California, USA.
1962–63 Fellowship award to study mosaic and stained-glass window techniques awarded by the West German government.
1960 Poetry prize in a national literary competition organized by the National Arts Council.
1959 First place Esso Inc., Nigerian Independence calendar design competition, Lagos.
1958–61 Nigerian Federal Government Scholarship
1957 Out-of-doors painting award by the Head of Department of Fine Art, NCAST, Zaria.
1987 Member, Adjudication Panel, Biennale of Children’s Book Illustration, Bratislava, Czechoslovakia.
1985 Member, Nigerian Delegation to UNESCO General Conference, Sophia, Bulgaria
1984 Delegate, International Artists’ Congress, Helsinki, Finland.
1983 Member, Nigerian Delegation to UNESCO General Conference, Paris, France.
1981 UNESCO Delegate to the 24th General Conference, Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
1979 Children’s Books on Africa and their Authors, an annotated bibliography – Nancy J. Schmidt. New York and London: Africana Publishing Company.
1978 Member Editorial Board, Black Orpheus, University of Lagos. Chairman of the Cultural Sector, UNESCO Commission, Lagos.
1977 Africa Yearbook and Who’s Who 1977, London, Africa Journal Ltd.
International Directory of Scholars and Specialists in African Studies, 1st edition, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA: Brandels University African Studies Association.
1976–77 Member, Visual Arts Committee, FESTAC ’77, Lagos. Member International Association of Artists (IIA), Paris, France. Vice-President Society for Nigerian Artists.
1976 Associate member, the Nigerian Art Education Association (NAEA), Reston, Virginia, USA. Member Nigerian Society for Education Through Art (NSEA) Lagos.
1975 Member, International Society of Education Through Art (INSEA), Hereford, England.
1974 International Directory of Arts, 12th edition, Verlag Muller GMBH and Company K.G. Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
American Council on Education Lecture Tour to 8 American Universities in the USA.
1971 Member review panel W.A.E.C. Art Syllabus. Iskusstuo Stran I Narodov Mira Vol.3 Soviet Arts Encyclopedia, Moscow, USSR.
1971–78 Member, Advisory Committee, Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
1971–76 Member, East Central State Arts Council and Chief Art Organiser for the State Festival of Arts.
1970 Member, International Bibliophile Association, Paris, France.
2010 Nigeria @ 50, a publication by the Federal Government of Nigeria in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Nigeria’s independence.
2003 NKU DI NA MBA: Uche Okeke and Modern Nigerian Art, National Gallery of Art, Lagos.The Triumph of a Vision: an Anthology on Uche Okeke and Modern Art in Nigeria, Pendulum Art Gallery.
2001 Historical Sketch of the Growth of the Catholic Church in Nimo, publication for 50th Anniversary of Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Nimo, Anambra State.
1998 The Zaria Art Society: A New Consciousness, National Gallery of Art, Lagos.
1995 Seven Stories about Modern Art in Africa, Whitechapel Art Gallery, London
1991 Terms of Art: Contemporary Nigerian Art in the International Context, Ministry of Culture, Nordrhine-Westfalen/Kunstsammilung Nordrhine-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany.
1990 Eze Institution in Igboland, by Hanny Hahn-Waanders, Asele Institute Documentation Centre, Nimo, Anambra State.
1982 Art in Development: A Nigerian Perspective, Asele Institute Documentation Centre and the African American Cultural Center, Minneapolis, US.
1976 “Search for the Theoretical Basis of Contemporary Art”, paper presented at the International Symposium on Contemporary Art, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.Modern Nigerian Art, Documentation Centre, Asele Institute, Nimo.
Igbo Art, Asele Institute, Nimo.
1971 Tales of Land of Death: Igbo folktales by Uche Okeke, Doubleday, Zenith Books.
1969 Geschichte der Ibo Kunst, Dortmund Lecture No. 97, Dortmund: Kulturamt der Stadt Dortmund.
1961 Drawings by Uche Okeke, intro. Ulli Beier, Ibadan. Mbari Productions
Public and private collections
National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution.
National Gallery of Art, Abuja, Nigeria.
Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, USA.
Iwalewa Haus, Bayreuth, Germany.
Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich Germany.
Franz Mayer Hofkunstanstalt, Munich, Germany.
Tate Modern Gallery, Liverpool, United Kingdom
OYASAF Foundation, Lagos, Nigeria.
Broadcast House Radio Nigeria, Kaduna, Nigeria.
Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
University of Lagos, Nigeria.
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Nigeria.
National Council for Arts and Culture, Lagos, Nigeria.
Murtala Mohammed international Airport Lagos.
Akademie der Kunst, Berlin, Germany.
State House, Enugu, Nigeria.
Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Dolly Fitterman Art Gallery Inc, Minneapolis, USA.
Beke Memorial Hospital, Nimo, Nigeria.
Ministry of Education and Information, Cultural Division, Enugu, Nigeria.
Mr and Mrs Chellarams.
Dr Ronald Severino, USA.
A. R. Jellings, United Kingdom.
W. J. Plume, United Kingdom.
Lady Dorothy Head, United Kingdom.
Frau Gertrude Buchta, Deisenhofen near Munich, Germany.
Demas Nwoko, Nigeria.
Mr and Mrs Alec Armstrong, United Kingdom.
Professor and Mrs Chinua Achebe.
Ada Udechukwu (born 1960) is a Nigerian artist and poet associated with the Nsukka group.
Born in Enugu, Udechukwu was the daughter of an Igbo father and an American mother. She grew up in Nigeria, moving with her family to the United States at the start of the Biafran War and returning when it was over. She studied under the author Chinua Achebe, earning her bachelor’s degree in English and literature at the University of Nigeria in 1981. A few years later she began to paint on fabric, painting designs on clothing using a restrained linear style. In 1988 she began to make drawing on paper, using ink and watercolor. These drawings are more personal than her other work, reflecting her attempts to balance being a woman and an artist. Her work also examines the complexities of interracial and intercultural identities, inside and outside Africa.
Primarily a poet, Ada Udechukwu is also a well-regarded short story writer. Her book of poems and drawings, Woman, Me, was published by Boomerang Press (1993). Her short story “Night Bus” was published in the Fiction Issue of the journal The Atlantic (August 2006).
Felix Idubor (1928–1991) was a Nigerian sculptor from Benin City, an African city with a rich history of artistic excellence. He was part of a young group of artists in the 1950s and 1960s who raised awareness of the artistic consciousness of African tradition in an emerging and nascent social milieu. He is sometimes considered one of the pioneers of Nigerian contemporary art. In 1966, he opened Nigeria’s first contemporary art gallery in Kakawa street, Lagos.
He was very successful in door carvings and was commissioned to carve doors for prominent firms and individuals such as the Cooperative Bank building at Ibadan and the House of Parliament in Lagos.
Early life and education
Felix Idubor was born to the family of a farmer in Benin city. He started carving at an early age, but met some resistance from his father who felt carving was not a financially productive career choice. He began his education at a primary school in Benin but later took a break from studies to concentrate on what he felt was his natural choice of occupation, carving. His first artistic choice of subject focused on birds usually carved in wood from the Iroko tree which were numerous in Benin.He also used the wood from the iroko tree as tools in other carving projects and was quite successful in his chosen path. By the age of seventeen, he was appointed a tutor at the Edo College in Benin with little formal training.
In the late 1950s, he earned a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Art, London after his work gained critical acclaim during an exhibition to coincide with Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Nigeria.
After the end of World War II, he left the city of Benin and moved to Lagos. However, Lagos which was then the seat of government was also an emerging economic and trade center with high standards of living. To fend for himself, Idubor turned to making tourist craft for sales to African traders and foreign tourists while also finding time to tend to his artistic and later distinctive vision of wood carvings. Although, the African tourism craft form was sometimes called traducible by some, the popularity with tourists and the effort put into training and making the craft encouraged the collecting of African art works.
By 1953, Idubor was able to hold an exhibition of his wood sculptures at the Nigerian Exhibition Center. The exhibition gave him visibility and exposure; a few of his works were bought by American collectors. His work also attracted critical attention. However, it was an exhibition opened by the Nigerian governor-general, James Robertson which was held to coincide with the visit of Queen Elizabeth that gave him increased exposure. Included in the gift presented to the queen was an Idubor wood carving. In due time, he was later a teacher at a college in Yaba and was given a scholarship to study in London.
After returning from London, he was given his first major project, to design a door for the new Cooperative Bank building in Ibadan. The architect brought in to work on the building chose Idubor for his taste in and talent in carving. Idubor chose a design of three crops carved in wood, the three crops signified the three main regions of Nigeria. The palm fruit for the Eastern region, cocoa for the Western region and groundnut for the Northern region. The carvings were well received and further opened avenues for new clients who appreciated his work. He later worked with the office of the Oba of Lagos on a wood carving for a palace door and also with the Nigerian parliament.
He also succeeded in other material subjects and also experimented with bronze sculptors and concrete casting. His carving of a Yoruba girl was on display at the Nigerian House, London and some of his works hanged as ornaments on the walls of the National Hall, Lagos. His enigmatic work depicting a woman with a crown and Coral beads on ring road, Benin was a stature that dominated the popular road.
In 1966, he opened his art gallery on Kakawa street, Lagos
Obiora Udechukwu (born 1946) is a Nigerian painter and poet.
Born in Onitsha in 1946 to parents from Agulu in Anambra State, Nigeria, he studied for one year at Ahmadu Bello University before transferring to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka as a result of pogroms against the Igbo people in northern Nigeria. During the Nigerian Civil, also known as the Biafran War (1967-1970), Udechukwu worked in the Propaganda Unit, and participated in the artists and writers workshops led by the poet Gabriel Okara and the artist Uche Okeke. At the end of the war, he returned to Nsukka, completing his bachelor’s degree in fine arts, with a thesis on Igbo Uli mural art, in 1972. Returned to Nsukka in 1973, he was appointed a Junior Fellow in the Department of Fine where he received his Master of Fine Arts in 1977. He is recognized as a leading member of the Nsukka School, originally led by Uche Okeke who served as head of the art program until 1985. While at Nsukka, Udechukwu became a founding member of the Aka Circle of Exhibiting Artists, which included El Anatsui, Tayo Adenaike, and other artists based in eastern Nigeria. He served on the editorial board of Okike: African Journal of New Writing established in Nsukka by the novelist Chinua Achebe. He was appointed Professor of Painting at Nsukka in 1986. During his tenure, his students included Tayo Adenaike, Olu Oguibe, Chika Okeke-Agulu and Marcia Kure. In 1997, Udechukwu became Dana Professor of Fine Arts at St. Lawrence University, in the United States. He lives in Canton, NY.
Udechukwu frequently incorporates uli into his work, and in the 1970s he introduced nsibidi signs, as well as ink wash techniques of Chinese literati artists. Many of his paintings and prints depict ordinary people; his wartime service also inspired pieces which depicted the great suffering that he saw. From the mid-1970s, he themes ranged from philosophical subjects to socio-political commentary.
Udechukwu has had more than 25 one-person exhibitions in Nigeria, England, Zimbabwe, Germany, and United States.
His art work is in the collections of National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos; National Council of Arts and Culture, Lagos; Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Lagos; Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany; Museum fur Volkderkunde, Frankfurt/Main, Germany; Bradford City Museums and Galleries, Bradford, England; Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC; Newark Museum.
What the Madman Said, (1990), winner of Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize, 1990.
Tayo Adenaike was born in 1954 and he is currently living in Nigeria, he is a Nigerian painter.
A native of Idanre, Adenaike is of Yoruba parentage. In 1967 he was first introduced to formal instruction in arts at Federal Government College, located in Warri, in the present Delta State. He won second prize in the All Nigeria Secondary School National Art Workshop held at Ahmadu Bello.
University, Zaria. This accomplishment among other things encouraged Adenaike to continue studying art at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with Obiora Udechukwu. Here he received his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts 1979 and his masters of Fine Arts in 1982. Since then he has largely worked in advertising and he has become the artistic director of Dawn Functions, Ltd., a major Nigerian firm in Enugu. He paints at night and on weekends because of his full-time employment as the Artistic Director, and travels annually to the United States.
Adenaike occasionally works with oils and acrylics but his preferred medium is watercolor, into which he incorporates numerous uli and akika designs; more recently, he has begun adding nsibidi motifs to his paintings. His designs are complex, and tend to be based on personal themes; much of his work is topical and deeply personal. Human faces, distorted or in agony, often appear in his work. Many of his paintings also draw themes from his Yoruba childhood. He creates works that explore Igbo and Nsukka styles with uncommon insight.
As a painter, Adenaike has said that he views himself as a third generation painter, a successor to fellow Nsukka artists Uche Okeke and Chike Aniakor in the first generation and his teacher Obiora Udechukwu in the second generation.
The Nsukka group is the name that was given to a group of Nigerian artists who were associated with the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in the 1970s. They are especially known, as a group that was working to revive the practice of uli (the traditional designs drawn by the Igbo people of Nigeria) and they incorporated its designs into contemporary art using media such as acrylic paint, tempera, gouache, pen and ink, pastel, oil weekends because of his full-time employment as the Artistic Director, and travels annually to the United paint, and watercolor.
Tayo Adenaike has held eighteen solo exhibitions and participated in many joint and group exhibitions in Nigeria, United States, England and Germany.
Aina Onabolu (1882–1963) was a pioneering Nigerian modern arts teacher and painter who was an important figure in the introduction of arts into the curriculum of secondary schools in the country. He was also the major figure in Nigeria that promoted the drawing of environmental forms in a verisimilitudinous style and was known for his early modern work in portraiture.
Early life and education
Aina Onabolu was born in Ijebu-Ode in 1882. His father was a successful merchant and his mother was also a trader.He started painting at the early age of 12, inspired by the cheap re-produced illustrations of Western arts which were prominent in many Nigerian magazines and religious books. By the age of 32, he was able to exhibit his own works and was quite popular as a knowledgeable and skilled artist. He later travelled abroad to study art at Académie Julian in Paris and at a school in London; before his sojourn abroad, he was already a competent and self-taught draftsman. He completed his studies with a diploma in fine arts and a teacher’s certificate from St. John Woods College, London in 1922.
In 1909, when the colonial government in Nigeria took control of formal education, the curriculum in the schools was geared towards the provision of suitable education to train clerk position clerks for the colonial Administration government administration. Little was thought of arts education in secondary education until a report recommended the teaching of native indigenous hand craft. Prior to the report, Onabolu had formally presented requests for the introduction of modern arts education in secondary schools but his option was rejected by the colonial education officers. During the time, there were implicit suggestions by the colonial officers that the natural limits of Africans was in pottery and craft.
Onabolu’s return from St John Woods, London, in 1922 and Julians academy in Paris and his acquired knowledge of the European technique of painting, anatomy and the characteristics of European art education coincided with a new perspective on introducing indigenous art education in the country. Onabolu, who had taught informally to enthusiastic students began teaching in a few top schools in Lagos such as King’s College, Lagos and CMS Grammar School, Lagos. His themes dealt primarily with the science of perspective, drawing and human proportions and watercolor painting. Though there were few teachers on western techniques in art, Onabolu’s period started the separation of art and life.
Onabolu also encouraged the adoption of European teachers in art instruction in the country. His effort led to the hiring of a foreign art teacher named Kenneth Murray. Murray led a gradual re-awakening of traditional handicraft and arts. The new approach of promoting indigenous African arts and staying within the native repository of knowledge in traditional African arts was introduced into the curriculum of various secondary schools in the country. The efforts of the new instructor yielded early dividends, as the number of Nigerian art instructors increased and knowledge of traditional works such as the Uli body and wall became more pronounced. However, Murray’s effort meant little in the long run as the country was in the midst of a colonial and Western government which introduced its own way or life, leading to a gradual shift in the society from traditional to a Western culture.
Onabolu’s major art works were portraits. His portrait of Mrs Spencer Savage in 1906 is sometimes credited as one of the earliest outstanding work of art that used a western and modern style and technique. Another major work of his was the portrait of Mr Randle. The latter was his mentor who got his attention on the deleterious characteristics of colonialism which was accentuated with a segregationist governor in the person of Walter Egerton. He also made a portrait of Chief (Dr.) Sapara which was in water colour Several of his portraits are held in the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos.
The major figures in his work were Lagos elites who were successful professionals in their field of work, and his work usually depicted a countenance of respect, achievement and status of his clients. However, his work was not limited to portraiture. In the 1930s, he worked with the Church of Christ in designing the pews of a new cathedral to be built in Lagos. He later produced pastel compositions and studies in the 1940s.
Demas Nwoko (born 1935) is a Nigerian artist, protean designer, architect and master builder. As an artist, he strives to incorporate modern techniques in architecture and stage design to enunciate African subject matter in most of his works. In the 1960s, he was a member of the Mbari club of Ibadan, a committee of burgeoning Nigerian and foreign artists. He was also a lecturer at the University of Ibadan. In the 1970s, he was the publisher of the now defunct New Culture magazine.
Nwoko, sees design as an ingenuous activity that carries with it a focus on social responsibility for positive influences in the environment and culture of the society.
Nwoko was born in 1935 in Idumuje Ugboko, a town that now has as its Obi (King) Nwoko’s brother. Nwoko grew up in Idumuje Ugboko appreciating the newly constructed architectural edifices in the town and in the palace of the Obi, his father. He went to study fine arts at the Zaria College of Arts, Science and Technology in 1956, a year after the college was moved from its original location in Ibadan to Zaria. In 1962, he received a scholarship from the Congress of Cultural Freedom to study at the Centre Français du Théâtre in Paris where he learned scenic design.
Zaria art school
From 1957 to 1961 he studied Fine Arts at the former College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria (now Ahmadu Bello University), where he was exposed to conventional Western techniques in art, though like most of the artists at the school their subject matter was predominantly African. In the late 1950s, together with Uche Okeke, Simon Okeke and few other art students, he formed the Art Society. This was during a period dominated by nationalistic fervour, with the attainment of national political independence in 1960. The Art Society became known for championing Natural Synthesis, a term coined by Uche Okeke to describe the combination of contemporary Western art techniques and African ideas, art forms, and themes.
Pan-Africanism and early artwork
In the 1950s, Nigeria’s campaign for self-rule was dominated by two major ideas on how to achieve a truly independent and stable polity. One was based on regions as the foundation of the nation-state and politicians used the regions as a stepping stone for political success, the other embraced the ideas that emanated from the early Nigerian Youth Movement and the Zikist Movements to employ themes of Pan-Africanism and to forgo the regions as the foundation of the future Nigerian polity. In his art work, Nwoko moved slightly towards the latter. Nwoko’s early sculpture and painting style were inspired by the findings at Nok. A lot of his early sculptures and paintings can be described as one of extrapolation. His terracotta’s were designs that extended and expressed the art forms of the Ancient Nok with less deviation from an ancient African theme. This allowed the work to express less ambiguity and more clarity of intentions and to showcase a modern African art form.
After completing his studies at Zaria and Paris, he moved to Ibadan in 1963. In Ibadan, he originally concentrated on designs for theatrical productions of the University of Ibadan’s department of Drama while he was also a lecturer at the university. While in the ancient city, he was sometimes short on cash and expenses to build or buy a house and studio for his work. He then decided to build his studio and house from traditional methods to complement his cash shortage. He used clay and laterite found around the site chosen and built a brick house and studio from the natural resources lying around.
His inventiveness in using modern and new techniques for selected and protean African art works led to his name being spread around town and in the country. Nwoko’s first major architectural design was for a Dominican mission in Ibadan. After the nation’s independence, some missions desired to decorate their churches with African motifs. He was originally approached to design a plaque for a new chapel but he later asked the Dominican fathers to help in designing a new chapel to be located in Ibadan. Although, his initial design was a little bit crude with the utilisation of free-hand drawing, it was meant to accommodate local exigencies such as the sunny atmosphere in Ibadan. Usually, his designs were designed to have interior temperatures to be in contrast to the exterior temperatures at most times. His style was moulded to fit into the temporal needs of African citizens in a given location.
Nwoko later went on to design more structures such as the Benin theatre, which used Greek and the Japanese Kabuki designs. He also designed the scepter for his brother’s coronation as the Obi of Idumoje Ugboko. Other famous architectural works includes the cultural center, Ibadan, which made use of natural forms to emphasise its relationship with nature and ancient Yoruba art.
Nwoko’s works fuse modern techniques in architecture and stage design with African tradition. With works such as The Dominican Institute, Ibadan and The Akenzua Cultural Center, Benin, to his credit, Nwoko is one “artist-architect” who believes in celebrating the African tradition in his works. In 2007, Farafina Books published The Architecture of Demas Nwoko, a study of Nwoko’s work and theories written by two British architects, John Godwin OBE and Gillian Hopwood. Reviewing the book, African Book Publishing Record states:
The Dominican Institute was his first major architectural project. He asked the Dominicans if he could assist them in their new building. The Dominican fathers, were eager to incorporate African motifs in their new buildings in Ibadan. Nwoko’s designs perfectly fit their needs.
Nwoko’s studies in Zaria and Paris had prepared him well for his plan of combining African art with modern ideas of European art. He began designing for University of Ibadan theatrical productions. It was his new ideas, which led to his work with the Dominicans and that success led to his subsequent works throughout Nigeria, including the Oba Akenzua Theater in Benin City, Nigeria. The Oba Akenzua Theater uses Japanese and Greek designs in an African setting. He also designed the cultural centre in Ibadan and a sceptre his brother’s coronation. His brother is the Obi of Idumoje Ugboko.
In addition to his architecture Nwoko has many other accomplishments in the arts. He co-published New Culture, a leading arts magazine, pointing the way toward new movements in African art. He led the way toward a modern mode of expression in African art, theatre, painting, and architecture. In addition, he is a fine actor and dancer, having performed in numerous plays in Ibadan. He also is a distinguished professor in Ibadan.
Godwin and Hopwood manage to capture all of these facets of Nwoko’s career while keeping the focus on his architecture. Nwoko belongs to that generation of artists, along with Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka, who fought for Nigerian independence artistically as well as politically.
This book has been produced to an exceptionally high quality, with plentiful photographs. The Architecture of Demas Nwoko is recommended for all architecture and African Studies collections.
The success of Amos Tutuola’s Palmwine Drinkard owes a little bit of credit to the effort of Nwoko. His inventive creations helped organise the choreography and direction of the play and brought to life the themes of Tutuola in every act of the play. His body of stage design and direction, which started at Ibadan includes Wole Soyinka’s A Dance of the Forests, Bertholt Brecht’s Der Kaukasische Kreidekreis (The Caucasian Chalk Circle), and the Mbari Theatre production of John Pepper Clark’s The Masquerade.
Chike Aniakor (born 1939) is a Nigerian painter. A native of Abatete, Aniakor received his first artistic training at Ahmadu Bello University, receiving his master’s degree in 1974. He received a doctorate in art history from Indiana University in 1978, writing his dissertation on Igbo architecture. He has taught art and art history at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, since 1970, becoming a member of the Nsukka group. More recently, he has been a fellow of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and of Howard University.
Along with Uche Okeke, Aniakor was among the first Nsukka artists to develop an interest in uli, and his drawings and watercolors display a strong affinity to the system. His human figures frequently possess elongated bodies and limbs, and he often makes use of negative space. His subjects are mainly drawn from Igbo culture and from the Biafran War. More recently his art has become more concerned with Nigerian social conditions.
Yusuf Grillo (born 1934) is a contemporary Nigerian artist known for his inventive works and the prominence of the color blue in many of his paintings.
He was president of the Society of Nigerian Artists.
Grillo was born in Lagos and attended Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria, where he received a diploma in Fine Arts and a post-graduate diploma in education. In 1966, he left Zaria for study at the academic halls of Cambridge University and later traveled to Germany and the United States of America.
Grillo is considered one of Nigeria’s outstanding and academically trained painters; he emerged to prominence and international recognition in the 1960s and 1970s, while exhibiting a large collection of his early works. He makes use of his western art training in many of his paintings, combining western art techniques with traditional Yoruba sculpture characteristics. His preference for color blue in natural settings paintings, is sometimes similar to the adire or resist-dye textiles used in Nigeria. He is a former Head of the Department of Art and Printing at Yaba College of Technology.
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