Birth of Modern Nigerian Art: The Aina Onabolu Story

African modernism started with Aina Onabolu (1882-1963), painter, foremost art educator and father of modern Nigerian art. At that time, FH Howard, a Deputy Director of Education in colonial Nigeria, in his writings captured the colonial administrators’ views on the subject of Africans’ artistic ability,

There is one barrier he [an African] cannot surmount, one door he is unable to open; that in the sphere of [Western] art he is not capable of reaching even a moderate degree of proficiency.

But Aina Onabolu proved this wrong. Onabolu became a self-taught artist with skills that rivaled those of Europeans with formal art training. And he single-handedly introduced Western art to Africa. He laid the foundation for modern Nigerian art and provided a springboard for a younger generation of artists including Ben Enwonwu and Akinola Lasekan.

Here’s a look at the fascinating life of this genius.

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Adekemi is a lawyer and writer with a passion for the arts, particularly African art history. She is dedicated to discovering and documenting the most excellent artworks of our time. Follow her on Twitter at adekemitweets.

6 Comments

  1. Artstrings
    3rd December 2018

    Thank you.

  2. UWAIFO FAVOUR
    29th November 2018

    nice one mam

  3. Artstrings
    26th November 2018

    Thank you. I totally agree.

  4. Ogunbona
    16th November 2018

    Nice article, well-done!
    We need to put more effort in documenting Nigerian creatives.

  5. Artstrings
    21st March 2018

    Your feedback means a lot to me. Thank you.

  6. Babatunde Edun
    21st March 2018

    Thank you so very much for this. Extremely informative.

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