Born on this day, 9th August, in 1946, Gani Odutokun is celebrated mostly for conceiving the accident and design theory, which defined the Zaria Art School in the 1980s and influenced the course of contemporary art in Nigeria. Odutokun explained the theory thus, The guiding light behind most of my work is the concept of ‘accident and
Fluid, lyrical and expansive are words that come to mind when one thinks about the art of Sina Yussuff. He had a warm, yet uncomplicated way of engaging with his subjects. Yussuff belonged to a golden generation of Ahmadu Bello students – David Dale and Kolade Oshinowo finished at the same period. The trio would
Kolade Oshinowo mask paintings are rare. It’s a theme he explored in the seventies and the eighties, but has mostly ignored in the ensuing decades. It’s interesting about mask-themed artworks. It feels as if, with each passing decade, there are fewer of these artworks. That’s understandable though. In the seventies and the eighties masquerades and
Amon Kotei is noted for his paintings of robust Accra women. These paintings, done with such etherealness that the women in spite of their size appear to float on his canvas, were his ode to the lovely Accra women of his childhood and adulthood. He loved Accra women, he would often say with a twinkle
Mbanefo is a sculptor and painter from Onitsha. Over the past few decades he has created amazing sculptures from various wood sources exploring themes like mortality and maternity; and capturing and processing the Nigerian cultural experience through masquerade forms and totems. Mbanefo’s paintings are heavily influenced by his sculptural roots so you’ll find linear figures,
Onobrakpeya says his father lived in Okeruvbu, a small town on the outskirts of Benin city, populated by Urhobo people. He would visit the town regularly and eventually did the etching ‘Okeruvbu’. The artwork was, in some way, a tribute to the town, his fond memories of his visits there and the inhabitants of the town.
By 1987 Sam Ovraiti was an art lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi. He’d graduated from Auchi in 1983, and in 1985 returned there as a lecturer. He was gregarious, friendly, mischievous — the sort of person who found something nice to say to everyone regardless of their station.
‘To be a man is not a day job.’ I always liked that sticker. I remember it from the buses zooming all over Lagos years ago. There were lots of stickers on those buses, like weird, mobile graffiti walls. That particular sticker stayed with me though. Probably because of the typo. Each time I read
I’ve been reading M. C. Atkinson’s book, ‘An African life – Tales of a colonial officer’. Atkinson was an English colonial administrative officer in Nigeria between 1939 and 1959. The book is a memoir of his time in Nigeria, working in various districts
Erudite. Articulate. Ben Osaghae liked words. He could express himself clearly in writing and in speech. A rare combination for an artist, in my experience. A rare thing for most people, come to think of it. Most people I know are good at either talking or writing – rarely both. Ben was an exception that way.
I met Uncle Sammy years ago when I set up my gallery. He’d come in, pick up an artwork or two and say to me ‘I’ll send you a cheque soon.’
My mother has never met the artist, Ablade Glover. She likes a few of his artworks on my wall but, I suspect, not enough to want to know too much about the man and his art. Yet, I’ve always thought that there’s a strong link between Glover and my mother. And every other African woman, actually.
Nsikak’s studio is a bit more cluttered than normal. Which is quite something because it usually is quite cluttered. Not in a terrible way though. In a mad tinkerer sort of way with artworks in various stages of creation all over the place, experiments and the instruments of these experiments strewn about and bits of things lying around waiting to be attached to the right multimedia work.
What do you say to a grieving widow? “I’m sorry about what happened”? or “What happened?” or “God will give you strength”? “Sorry” seems so lame.” God will give you strength.” I’m not that religious. I never quite know what to say. I just try to look grave and sympathetic. I probably end up looking panic-stricken.
He welcomed me with a smile. He was wearing a paint-spattered T-shirt and a pair of shorts; looking quite dishevelled in a ‘busy artist’ sort of way, yet remarkably dignified. His studio was littered with empty tubes of paint, like some sort of random installation. The table had packets of unopened paint tubes arranged quite neatly.
He started to turn his car in the middle of the road. Very slowly. We were holding up taxis on both sides of the road. I waited for the torrent of honks and abuse from the taxis. Nothing. They just waited patiently. This was Accra, I remembered.
The one thing I know about Sam Ovraiti is that I can’t seem to leave his studio in a hurry. I go there planning to spend thirty minutes,then I’m there for two hours. It’s not that he chains me to the door or anything remotely diabolical. It’s just that he talks. And talks. And talks. And he is really interesting.
‘What do you think he asked?’ as he unfurled the canvases.
There were two fairly large canvases.
We would occasionally have these talks; whenever he was experimenting with something new. I guess he liked to get a different viewpoint.
‘Being old is a terrible thing,’ he sighed.
Then he turned to me with a smile. ‘Yet nobody wants to die young, eh?’
‘I know,’ I replied.
He grunted as he tried to sign the artwork.
We didn’t really talk about the artworks I’d come for. We just talked about art. Nothing serious. Just chitchat.
‘It’ll still take a while,’ he said.‘We still need to get to that point where people know they can resell their artworks.