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PROMINENT CONTEMPORARY ARTIST

Ullier Bier was the main motivator of the Ibadan Mbari club which succeeded I bringing together all kind of creativity in the arts in 1961.

 

Ulllier Bierrand his wife Georgina Susanne Wenger cater found the Oshogbo School of Arts where many of the Nigerian contemporary artist were produced. Such artist are Twin Seven-Seven, Jimoh Buraimoh, Jacob Afolabi, Rufus Ogundele, Muraina Oyelami, Adebisi and Lasisi Gbadamosi. The Enugu Mbari produced a different set of young artist like Inyong, Emmanuel Nzo  Ndubuisi.

 

LITERARY NIGERIAN CONTEMPORARY ARTIST

Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, CHRISTOPHEROKIGBO, J. P. Clark, Anos Tutuola.

 

STUDIO ARTIST CONTEMPORARY ARTIST

Aina Onabolu, Akinola Labeka, Professor Ben Enwoyi, Bruce Onabrakeya, Yusuf Grillo, Kolade Oshinnowo, Ladi Kwali, Eghabor Emokpae, Uche and Lamidi Fakeye.

 

DRAMATIC PERFORMANING CONTEMPORARY ARTIST

Olaniyi Oseni (Twin 77), Hubert Ogunde e.t.c.

 

ART EDUCATOR CONTEMPORARY ARTIST

Professor Solomon Ireiwangboje, Udo Emma, T. A. Fasayi, Professor Jimoh Akolo, Olaosebikan, Clara Ngu (Nee Uguda), R. B. Fatuyi, G. T. Talabi, S. Sulaimon, Ajayi Adebayo, Ayo Ajayi, I. N. Uzoagba.

 

ART HISTORIAN

Aniakobi, hawar Babtunde, Doctor Dele Jegede. Others are O. I. Aina, S. N. Allah, B. E. Jenkins, O. Faolu, Sheifat Rinfawa, Hazei Rotimi, Demas Nwoko, Alhaji Adetoro, Henry Abiola, Mrs. O. OBEWENGE, Mike Omogbe, Matthew Ajayi, Yo Hassan, Faturoti S. B., Ogunddale, Shina, Yusuf, Paul igboaugo, etim Bassey, L. Bentu, , Samuel Babrinsa, Damola Ajidahun, Shola Babtunde, Tunde Malomo, J. O. Akeredolu, Thomas Ona, Akinola Lekan, Bolaji Bamigboye, T. A. Fasuyi, Gbolahan Lawal, Isiaka Osunde, O. E. Osiga, Abayomi Barber, Bayo Ajayi, Afi Ekong, T. O. Hassan, Inyong Emma, C. Adun, Late Shina Yusuf, Ishola Akande, Frank Eze, Ebenezer Gbidahun, , Jimoh Buraimoh, Simeon Aghetuyi, Boye Adewale, F. N. A. Cheme, N. Rukuex, Ben Ekanem, Obiora Odechwukwu, Tola Filani, R. Basorun, Yemisi Fadojutimi, Kunle Filani etc.

 

Some of the artist mentisoned above and many more are practicing artist while other teaches art in various secondary and tertiary institution. Majority of them are trained either through the apprenticeship approach or trained at Ahmadu Bello University, Yaba Higher College now, Yaba College of technology, University of Nigeria Nsukka, Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife and various Nigeria Polytechnics and Colleges of Education.

 

Adenaike, A. Omotayo.

The Nsukka school of art has become closely associated with uli art, the traditional wall and body painting of the Igbo. Introducing his subject of the influence of uli art on modern art, Adenaike first discusses the natural pigments used by the women in painting uli designs, the colors derived, and the uli symbols themselves.

 

Uche Okeke is the key link between the old and new traditions. His mother is a uli artist and his own training as an artist led him to explore this visual repertoire. At Nsukka, where he taught, the experiment took hold. In this part one of a two-part paper (see 3), Adenaike looks mainly at drawings and relates what is going on at Nsukka to other developments in modern Nigerian art.

 

Adenaike, A. Omotayo.

Artists discussed: Tayo Adenaike, Chuka Amaefuna, Chike Aniakor, Charles Nwachukwu Anyakora, Mike Irrifere, Uzo Ndubisi, Ray Obeta, Uche Okeke, Ego Uche-Okeke, and Obiora Udechukwu.

 

Adenaike, A. Omotayo. 

In Adenaike’s assessment, the “mature period” in the Oshogbo experiment, that is, after 1970, when the artists were on their own, has been one of stagnation and repetition. The burst of creativity of the formative period (1962-1970) has waned and a kind of shake-down process is at work, sifting the enduring talent from the not-so-good and the imitators. This does not mean, however, that there is not still lots of activity and many works produced at Oshogbo, but the results are not as satisfactory. Twins Seven-Seven has become distracted with other activities, particularly music. Rufus Ogundele, Muraina Oyelami, and Jimoh Buraimoh continue to experiment but with mixed results. The younger generations who attach themselves to the Oshogbo experiment are less successful and are cashing in on the tourist popularity of Oshogbo art.

 

On balance, it was a worthy experiment and did produce some competent artists. Ulli Beier is given credit for his vision and his encouragement to artists and for promoting Oshogbo art internationally. Though Ulli Beier did not conduct the workshops, he was central to the experiment. Adenaike concludes that the critical assessment of the works of art themselves — as opposed to discussion of the idea of informal workshop training and the commercialization of the art — has yet to occur.

 

Among the artists discussed: Jacob Afolabi, Jimoh Buraimoh, Adebisi Fabunmi, Demas Nwoko, Rufus Ogundele, Uche Okeke, Asiru Olatunde, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Muraina Oyelami, Twins Seven-Seven, Obiora Udechukwu, Solomon Irein Wangboje, and Susanne Wenger.

 

Adepegba, Cornelius O.

In the short list of books on modern Nigerian art — Evelyn Brown, Ulli Beier, Kojo Fosu, Marshall Mount — only the last two attempt any kind of classification. Fosu’s is based on a historical sequence without reference to form, while Mount’s is on broad geo-political groupings and artists’ training.

Dismissing these earlier attempts to classify modern Nigerian art, Adepegba develops a four-part classification of art works based on form and content:  discernible images of experiences and ideas;  naive visions, encouraged and fossilized;  abstractions beyond common understanding; and revisitations and adaptations of traditional art forms. He elaborates on each of these categories, citing examples from The Nucleus (the 1981 catalog of the collection of the National Gallery of Modern Art). The classification refers to art works not to individual artists, who may actually produce works falling into more than one of the categories.

Adepegba, Cornelius O.

Defining contemporary Nigerian art is more difficult and more problematic than describing new art and artists, which is what Adepegba does here. Many familiar names–Abuja, Oye Ekiti, Ovia Idah, Akinola Lasekan, Kenneth Murray, Aina Onabolu, Oshogbo–weave in and out of his essay. Indeed the Oshogbo school comes in for some harsh assessment as a flashy, but essentially unrooted movement which was bound to be a passing phenomenon. So, too, with Michael Crowder’s Ori Olokun Cultural Centre in Ile-Ife. These informal workshops have been superceded by formal university-based art training and by museums and exhibitions which consciously try to collect and promote contemporary art works.

Adeyemi, Ester. 

Alfred F. Spinnler became enchanted with the spontaneity and vitality of Nigeria and Ghanaian 20th century art. So, he began acquiring paintings while living in Lagos in the 1980s and 1990 and got to know many of the artists personally. This catalog features a selection of works from his private collection – – works of thirty-two Nigerian artists and five Ghanaian artists. Some are well know and established, such as Bruce Onobrakpeya, Jimoh Buraimoh, Kola Oshinowo, Muraina Oyelami, and Ablade Glover; others are young emerging artists. For each painter (all are painters), a few paintings are illustrated and discussed. Biodata is included. There are also brief essays on the state of contemporary art in Nigeria and in Ghana and another essay by Spinnler on how he came to be a collector of art.

ANIAKOR, CHIKE C.

Aniakor questions the relationship between the contemporary Nigerian artist and tradition. He reviews definitions of both traditional and contemporary art by such authors as William Fagg, Robert Armstrong, Simon Ottenberg, Rene Bravmann, as well as artists Demas Nwoko and Uche Okeke. SomeNigerian artists benefitting from tradition are Yemi Bisiri, Lamidi Fakeye, Yusuf Grillo, Bruce Onobrakpeya, and Twins Seven-Seven. Erhabor Emokpae is an exception.

ANONYUO, EMEKA G.

Skokian art derives from Okechukwu Odita’s idiosyncratic classification of contemporary art and refers essentially to realistic art. This dissertation by one of Odita’s students examines the work of several exemplars of realistic painting and sculpture by Nigerian artists, including, among the better known, Aina Onabolu, Abayomi Barber, Kolade Oshinowo, Ben Enwonwu, Ben Ekanem, Chudi Igboanugo, and Nsikak Essien.

ARADEON, SUSAN B.

When art draws on traditional life, mythology and designs, that creativity serves to forge a national identity, even across ethnic groups. So argues Aradeon as she discusses Nigerian genre scenes (exemplified by Akinola Lasekan), historical portraiture (Erhabor Emokpae), traditional mythology (Uche Okeke or Twins Seven Seven), depictions of sculptures (David Dale), traditional design motifs (Tayo Adenaike), the use of traditional artistic media (Jimoh Buraimoh’s beadwork), traditional design principles (Bruce Onobrakpeya or Obiora Udechukwu), or traditional approaches to creativity (Onobrakpeya or Okeke). She also considers artists’ influence on other artists (e.g., Twins Seven Seven drawing from Okeke’s work).

 

BEIER, ULLI.

The talent on display at the Exhibition of Arts and Crafts sponsored by the Lagos Branch of the Nigerian Council for te Advancement of Art and Culture, during the Independence celebrations, was surprisingly varied both in content and style. Intended to be representative rather than selective, it was of uneven quality. But it demonstrated that “contemporary” art in Nigeria is a wide and diverse field. Among the less well-known, but promising artists, are Festus Idehen and Osifo Osagie, both Benin sculptors, trained at Yaba College of Technology. Even more exciting are the Zaria group of artists — Jimo Akolo, Yusuf Grillo, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Uche Okeke, Simon Okeke and Demas Nwoko.

Beier finds these artists, particularly Uche Okeke and Nwoko, truly modern in outlook, yet solidly grounded in their respective cultures.

Artists discussed: J. D. Akeredolu, Jimo Akolo, Erhabor Emokpae, Ben Enwonwu, Lamidi Fakeye, Yusuf Grillo, Ovia Idah, Festus Idehen, Felix Idubor, Femi Kolawole, Akinola Lasekan, Demas Nwoko, Simon Okeke, Uche Okeke, Aina Onabolu, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Osagie Osifo, and Isiaka Osunde.

 

Beier, Ulli.

Writing at the time of Nigerian independence, Beier laments the persistence of the belief that only traditional African art has merit. He seeks to demonstrate that contemporary Nigerian art is vital and dynamic, drawing on both traditional streams of creativity and on newer outside influences, especially Christian ones. Discussing wood sculpture and metalwork in the context of their religious and social use, he suggests optimistically that by 1960, good art encompassed many forms, including architecture, cement sculpture, commercial signs and posters, and painting.

Oshogbo has meant many things to many people. It has been described as an art movement, an art school, an experiment; the art itself has been variously characterized as folkloric, naive, innovative, dynamic, touristic and on and on. In this thirty-year retrospective group portrait of the Oshogbo phenomenon, Beier, himself a key player, allows the artists, catalyzers and collectors to speak for themselves. Everyone has his unique perspective, not always in accord, nor able to recall with equal facility, but which together paint a whole picture of what Oshogbo was and is. The artists who recollect are Muraina Oyelami, Twins Seven Seven, Bisi Fabunmi, Tijani Mayakiri, Rufus Ogundele, Ademola Onibonokuta, and Georgina Beier. Ulli Beier writes on Asiru, Denis Williams, Ru van Rossem and on the question of patronage.

 

 

Bosah, Chukwuemeka and George Edozie. 

This book celebrates Nigeria’s 50th anniversary of independence by showcasing the vitality of Nigerian art in the year 2010. It is the brainchild of Chukwuemeka Bosah, who pulled together the artists and resources to get this book published. Artists’ submissions were invited, selections were made (criteria, not quite clear), and 101 artists were chosen. Essentially, this is a picture book giving a cross-section of art produced today in Nigeria, though it is overwhelmingly painting. The artists are by and large not well known names, and no biographical information is included, but the volume is handsomely produced. Introductory essay are by E. Okechukwu Odita, Frank Ugiomoh and Unoma Numero.

The Chartered Bank collection of contemporary Nigerian art was begun with the inspiration and support of Mr. Odunayo Olagundoye, the Managing Director of the Lagos bank. The first art work was acquired in 1989: a painting by Kolade Oshinowo. By 2000 the collection had grown to 149 works, executed in a variety of media. Sixty of these are featured in this catalog, representing nine regional schools of art and other aesthetic and historical criteria. In his introduction, curator Olasehinde Odimayo spells out the history, scope, and acquisition policy of the collection, including identifying artists yet to be collected, which is an unusual twist. The primary goal of the corporate collection is to build a well-rounded, representative and thoroughly documented collection.

UCHE OKEKE’S essay, “History of modern Nigeria art” (reprinted from Nigeria magazine nos. 128-129, 1979, pages 100-118) sets the contextual background for understanding contemporary Nigerian art. Nine regional formal and informal schools of art are presented as a framework for looking at 20th century Nigerian art: Abayomi Barber, Maroko, Oshogbo, Auchi, Benin, Ife, Nsukka, Yaba, and Zaria. Plus, there are a few artists who do not fit into this classification, e.g., Ben Enwonwu, Ben Osawe, and Ghanaian Ablade Glover.

 

JEAN KENNEDY, back in the United States from several years sojourn in Nigeria, threw her energies into gaining exposure in America for Nigerian artists. This 1969 exhibition in Los Angeles, which she organized, featured many of the first generation Oshogbo artists along with a few others. It traveled for five years from 1969 to 1973 and was seen by audiences in New York, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, and California. In retrospect, her exhibition went a long way toward making Oshogbo synonymous with contemporary African art in the United States.

Benin City has a long history of highly developed arts. With the establishment of the Faculty of Creative Arts, the University of Benin continues a tradition of training in the plastic arts. Among the artists featured: Ademola Adekola, Oseha Ajokpaezi, Osa Egonwa, Kunle Filani, Banky Ojo, and Nics Ubogu.

 

Lagos has a growing number of art collectors joining a few passionate ‘old-timers,’ who have quietly been collecting contemporary Nigerian art for 40 years. The purpose of this catalog is to shine a light on the collectors, the artists, and the art to demonstrate what a vital art scene Lagos has become. It also reveals that many of these artists are not internationally known despite the collectability of their art locally. Jess Castellote is to be congratulated for undertaking this project.

 

CROWDER, MICHAEL.

The position of the contemporary Nigerian artist with that of his traditional counterpart with particular reference to his patrons, his audience and his critics are contrasted. Artists discussed: Jimoh Buraimoh, Udo Ema, Ben Enwonwu, Yusuf Grillo, C. C. Ibeto, Demas Nwoko, Simon Okeke, Uche Okeke, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Muraina Oyelami, Twins Seven-Seven, and J. O. Ugoji.

 

Nigeria today has become a country noted for its art works, both ancient and modern. Contemporary artists of Nigeria enjoy some of the success and status of the ancient artists, producing a variety of works in artistic styles worthy of international acclaim. Thirty-one artists, most from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, are showcased in portfolios with color illustrations of their work. Brief biographical sketches are given. An introduction to calabash carving is presented also.

 

EZE, JUSTENE NEBECHIANYA W. C. 

The Zaria Art Society was founded in 1958 by art students at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria Branch. Founding members were: Uche Okeke, Demas Nwoko, Yusuf Grillo, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Simon Okeke, William Olasebikan, E. O. Odita, Ogbonnaya Nwagbara, Oseloka Odadebe, Felix Nwoko Ekeada, and Jimoh Akolo. Although it existed for only three years, the legacy of the Zaria Art Society is seen as extending much further than this brief period would suggest. Eze looks at this artistic legacy as manifest in the subsequent careers of the five prime movers — U. Okeke, S. Okeke, Nwoko, Grillo, and Onobrakpeya. Appendices include interviews with some of the artists and documents from the Zaria Art Society.

 

FILANI, EMMANUEL OLAKUNLE.

Contemporary artists in Nigeria are aiming for a cultural synthesis of old and new in the form and content of their work, and this is a completely legitimate process, Filani argues. The infusion of abstraction, the artistic freedom to create new forms and inject new meaning into art or to rework older forms have created a wide range of individual styles in the last two decades. These artists are not reluctant to make bold commentaries in the context of their work on contemporary Nigerian society, but they do so with a visual repetoire that speaks to as wide an audience as possible.

 

Modern Nigerian printmaking as an art form can be dated to the school in Zaria in the late 1950s, though here the emphasis was on printmaking as a commercial medium. However, among the graduates of this program are two of the most prominent of Nigeria’s printmakers: Bruce Onobrakpeya and S.

Irein Wangboje. Both of these artists have developed innovative styles and techniques.

 

Filani discusses both at length (Onobrakpeya, pp. 28-34; Wangboje, pp. 34-37). Wangboje also directed the Ori Olokun Cultural Centre in Ile-Ife where printmaking featured prominently; Ori Olokun has produced some successful artists, such as Segun Adeku. Wangboje, now at the University of Benin, is encouraging students to explore innovative printmaking techniques, though, on the whole, academic art programs are still slow in teaching printmaking as an art. David Dale, a protege of Onobrakpeya, is another active printmaker in Nigeria.

 

The outline of this book, based on the author’s dissertation, is simple. Eight Yoruba artists are compared and contrasted. Four of them are university trained; four are informally trained at workshops. The academic artists are Ben Oyadiran, Ayo Ajayi, Tola Wewe, and Wole Olagunju. The four workshop artists are Muraina Oyelami, Jimoh Buraimoh, Wale Olajide, and Segun Adeku. There is particular emphasis on the Yoruba motifs manifest in the work of these artists.

 

Harmattan Workshop

The Harmattan Workshops were founded in 1998 by artist Bruce Onobrakpeya in his home town Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, Nigeria. Onobrakpeya credits his own success to early formative experiences at art workshops held in Ibadan, Oshogbo and Ile-Ife in the 1960s and early 1970s. Now a mature artist, he seeks to replicate those opportunities for younger, aspiring artists.

 

This catalog records the experiences of the first two Harmattan Workshops, held in 1998 and 1999. Their origins and goals are described by Onobrakpeya. Three other essays discuss the painting, stone carving, and printmaking sessions. Biographical sketches of participating artists are included. Mike Omoighe contributes an essay on the place of art workshops in contemporary African art. Illustrations of many of the completed artworks are reproduced.

 

Building on the successes of the Harmattan 1 and 2 (see preceding entry), the third Harmattan workshop hosted fifty-five artists for two weeks in early 2000. Organized in five media sections – stone carving, metal sculpture, painting, printmaking, and pottery and ceramics – the invited (and uninvited) participants were mainly already trained and practicing artists or teachers. Each artist chose one major and one minor area of concentration. Lectures and discussions, reprinted here, added to the stimulating intellectual and creative environment of the workshop. In this catalog of Harmattan 3 are included reports on all media sections, illustrated with works of art created (which were later exhibited in Lagos). Biodata is included for each participant. There is also an essay on the architecture of Demas Nwoko.

 

The successful 4th Harmattan Workshop welcomed more than 50 participants (mostly men) into an expanded program that added new artistic media to the existing repertoire – bronze casting and jewelry and wood sculpture. Workshop facilities also expanded – a locally built printing press instead of an imported one – and new accommodations to house the artists at Bruce Onobrakpeya’s compound at Agbarha-Otor in the Niger Delta. The official Harmattan Workshop trainers are really facilitators to offer advice and encouragement for artists to experiment in different media.

 

This catalog reprints papers presented at the seminar sessions on topics such as arts administration, arts funding, documentation in the visual arts, pricing works of art, kiln construction, metal casting in Nigeria, disability and distortion in Nigerian sculpture, art workshops in Africa, and clay as a medium. Selection of artworks created during the workshop are illustrated in color. Each artist is profiled.

 

BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA

BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA’S HARMATTAN Workshop entered its fifth season in 2003 with an expanded repertoire of media. A textile section was added to painting, printmaking, stone and wood carving, metal sculpture, bronze casting, jewelry making, and ceramics. Sixty-two artists participated in 2003, still overwhelmingly male. The works produced during the workshop are illustrated. Because artists were sometimes working in new media, the products were experimental and of varying degrees of success, as would be expected. The hand-on studio work is complemented by presentations of papers and discussions and even poetry readings. Seven of these contributions are published in this catalog.

 

Around sixty artists took part in the 6th Harmattan Workshop in 2004, a year in which the venerable septuagenarians Wole Soyinka and Yusuf Grillo were honored. With few exceptions, the artists are all academically trained and hail mainly from the Niger Delta region and Lagos. There is no representation from northern Nigeria. Experimentation in new media is encouraged during the workshop to allow the artists to broaden their range. The fruits of their labor are reproduced here. Evening programs for workshop attendees consist of lecturers and discussions on art history and art practice. Six papers are reprinted.

 

HEROLD, ERICH.

Ulli Beier’s collection of Nigerian sign paintings, now in the Náprstek Museum in  Prague, includes works by Middle Art and other Onitsha and Owerri painters. Herold takes a close look at the style and imagery of portraits in these paintings to propose a hypothetical model for the representation: Patrice Lumumba, the fallen hero of Congo’s independence.

 

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