My uncle, Eddy, lived in Leeds, UK for many years. He schooled and worked there before returning to Nigeria in the eighties. He didn’t burn his passport when he returned but, I suspect he vowed never to return to Leeds. He was sick of living in a foreign country where he didn’t belong. He got
Since respect for elders is all the rage at the moment, we thought we’d praise the ultimate elder, Bruce Onobrakpeya – the storyteller of Agbarha-Otor, master printmaker, probably Nigeria’s most famous living artist, and certainly the most influential over the past 5 decades. The artwork ‘Musicians’, is a rare sketch on aluminium printer’s plate done
You might not see a link between the Niger Delta landscape and the Argungu festival in the North. But then you’re not Abiodun Olaku. Olaku is obviously one of the country’s most respected artists. He has earned his reputation the hard way or maybe the beautiful way, judging by his paintings. Olaku has worked consistently
Glover’s Lorry Station It’s a scene Glover has explored consistently – the bustle at Accra lorry stations. The lorries with their crazy signs and graffiti – a raucous, moving display panel for goods and wacky ideas; the passengers getting on, getting off, always moving. As with many of his themes, he finds order and rhythm
1969. Bruce Onobrakpeya would create his Station of the Cross paintings for St. Paul’s Church, Ebute Metta. He would go on to create these artworks as etchings. With the consent of the Church priest, Father Kevin Carroll, Onobrakpeya interpreted the idea of the Stations of the Cross as a local event using African characters to
Someone said to me a while back that he was sick of paintings of struggling African market women. Too grim. I understood. I’ve also always preferred the expression of markets and market women as something other than toil and hardship. Amon Kotei’s Accra market paintings offer us the joy and warmth of the women in
Text for The Master’s Exhibition Catalogue 2018 by Mydrim Gallery Masters as Servants Service There are no masters here. Not in a conventional sense, anyway. These are not wondrous, other-worldly beings floating in a bubble of their success. No, these are no masters. These are servant, when you think about it. They have toiled
There’s a teenage boy at the airport. He looks defiant, resentful, a little angry. But lurking somewhere, there’s also love and hope. His father might see these emotions or maybe not. He might just sense the anger. It might compound his own anger and despair. He might feel powerless, frustrated. They look through each other,
I have been to Nairobi and Addis Ababa in the recent past. Dakar is different. Nairobi is very like Lagos – same energy and zest, a far more customer friendly version of Lagos, I suppose. Addis has a staid, old school charm about it. It feels like a city going at it’s own pace, yet
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.