Muraina Oyelami’s journey as a visual artist started with the Mbari-Mbayo art workshop in Oshogbo in 1964. The workshop encouraged creative young people who had no formal art education to explore the visual arts. The 24 year-old Oyelami, at this time an actor in The Duro Ladipo theatre, embraced the ideas of the workshop enthusiastically.
He would go on to study theatre at Obafemi Awolowo University, teach African music there from 1975 to 1987 and travel the world sharing the nuances of the Yoruba talking drum – all while exploring the rich history of his Yoruba tribe in his paintings. Different worlds for some, but for Oyelami it seemed like one world drawn from the same source and only expressed in a variety of ways.
He would explore the festivals, cultural ideas and myths of Yoruba culture in his paintings. He would also explore the faces of young Yoruba women conveying through these faces his ideas about innocence, growth and evolution. His landscapes would express his ideas about people, urban growth and inequalities. He evolved a nuanced, almost translucent approach that connected to his Oshogbo roots but was uniquely his.
Oyelami lives in Iragbiji near Oshogbo.