Do you remember those artist names in fine art class? Well, we certainly do because our art teachers made us read about them and their works. We dedicate this article to the propagators of visual art in Nigeria and its movement towards turning it into a lucrative career. From paintings, sculpture, collage etc., these wonderful artists formed a strong foundation to the art industry in the country.
- Aina Onabolu
Aina Onabolu, born in Ijebu-Ode in 1882, he pioneered Nigerian modern arts and painting. He was an important figure in the introduction of arts into the curriculum of secondary schools in Nigeria, and his notable works were the portrait of Lady Spencer Savage. He taught in a few top schools in Lagos; Kings’ college and CMS Grammar school.
- Yusuf Grillo
A renowned artist in Nigeria; 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. Some of his works include Yoruba Bride. He is famous for his preference for using the color – blue, in most of his paintings.
- Ben Enwonwu
Ben Enwonwu was born in Onitsha in 1917. Famous for painting and sculpting, he was regarded as a leading figure in African modernism. Some of his major works include Drummer Boy, Anyanwu, and a sculpted bronze portrait of Queen Elizabeth II which received international acclaim when presented at the Royal Society of British Artists.
- Nike Okundaye
The 67-year old owner of Nike Art Gallery is an experienced batik and textile designer. Per a CNBC Africa interview, she has trained over three thousand young Nigerians for free and continues to help by funding many people to establish their small businesses and art workshops in different parts of Nigeria. Some of her works are displayed at the Smithsonian museum, the Gallery of African Art and The British Library.
- Ladi Kwali
Ever seen the potter on our N20 note? That is Madam Ladi Kwali, she grew up in a family that kept up the female tradition of pottery making. At a young age, she was taught the skill by her aunty and she became so good that her works were sold off before they could even make it to the market. In 1954, Ladi Kwali joined the Abuja Pottery as its first female potter and in 1962, she was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire.
Tell us your favorite contemporary Nigerian artist!