5 Nigerian Contemporary Artists

Nigeria is filled with over 250 ethnic groups and has one of the richest cultures in the world with art as the means of expression.

Below is a list of 5 Contemporary artist in Nigeria, ranging from painting to sculpture to collage to photography and more.

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.

Nike Davies Okundaye

The 67 year old artist is the owner of the Nike Art Gallery, the largest art gallery in West Africa. She is an experienced batik and textile designer famous for her batik weaving, dyeing workshops and her elaborate and intricately designed art. Nike 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.

Yusuf Grillo

The renowned Nigerian artist, born 1934 in Lagos, attended Nigerian College of Arts, Science, and Technology, Zaria, where he received a diploma in Fine Arts and a post-graduate diploma in education. He is known for his inventive works and the prominence of color blue in most of his paintings. One of his works include Yoruba Bride.

Ben Enwonwu

The Onitsha-born artist was a painter and sculptor which he was famous for. He was regarded as the influential African artist of the 20th century which open the way for increased visibility of modern art. 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.

A sculpted bronze portrait of Queen Elizabeth II

Ladi Kwali

Have you ever seen the Potter on the Nigeria ₦20 note? That’s Ladi Kwali. After growing up in a family that kept up with a female tradition in pottery making, Ladi was skilled and good that her works were sold off before they could even make it to the market. She joined the Abuja pottery as the first female Potter in 1954 and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1962.

These wonderful artists formed a strong foundation to the art industry in the country.

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