Nigeria has an ancient history and diverse cultural heritage. However, diversity not uncommonly leads to ethnic and religious tensions here, and the economy still relies heavily on the oil trade. Despite its problems, this environment has provided fertile ground for artistic expression across mediums and across disciplines. When it comes to visual arts, some of the most respected names are Lamidi Olonade Fakeye, Ndidi Dike and Obiora Udechukwu.
Lamidi Olonade Fakeye
Lamidi Olonade Fakeye comes from a venerable line of master carvers, and his name is replete with personal meaning: Lamidi is an abbreviated form of Abdul Hammed, which denotes this artist's conversion to Islam while he was a young man. Olonade, in his native dialect, means "the artist has arrived," a name prophetically given to him at birth. And Fakeye is a title first bestowed upon his grandfather, who passed this title down to his posterity. With this legacy, Lamidi Olonade Fakeye woodcarves after the Yoruba tradition and teaches art at the university in Ife, training Nigeria's next generation of traditional artists.
Ndidi Dike is one of Nigeria's leading female artists. While her primary medium is sculpture, she also works in mixed media painting and ceramics. Her work has received two PABHAs (Pan African Broadcasting, Heritage and Achievement Awards) as well as a Solidra Award, and Dike has appeared in television programs, radio interviews and professional presentations around the world. As of 2009, she has participated in 19 organizations that promote the arts, including National Directory of Arts and Culture; the Committee for Relevant Art; the Society of Nigerian Artists, where she was an executive member; and MASOMA Africa Foundation. She resides in the city of Lagos.
Obiora Udechukwu is an experimental artist whose works encompass a wide range of prints and paintings. His subject matter is equally broad. During the Biafran War, also called the Nigerian Civil War, he depicted the death and suffering surrounding him. Everyday life is another common theme in his work, which captures the common misfortunes of Nigerians, such as a low standard of living, as well as the stunning landscapes of Nsukka. His art often features nsibidi, a design system common among the Ejagham and Igbo tribes. Nsibidi uses familiar objects, like a mirror, to depict social relationships and strong feelings.
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