It’s been a week since my last post and during that time I was able to visit Nike Art Gallery in Osogbo.
The gallery is situated at Old Ede Road, Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria. It is also called Nike Centre for Arts and Culture, Nike Art Centre or Osogbo Ilu Aro.
There are other Nike Art Galleries in Abuja, Kogi and Lagos state. The Lagos centre accounts for more than 7,000 art pieces, it is reportedly the largest art gallery in Africa.
Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye, founder of the art exhibit recently celebrated 50 years of practice. Well wishers, art enthusiasts and members of the art community converged at the Lagos centre last week Friday (12/04/19) to rejoice with her.
Reminiscing on her journey as an artist, Chief Nike said she started in 1968 in her bedroom with textile called adire then moved to painting and beadwork. One of her beadwork strikingly captures the kidnap of the Chibok girls and woes of their mothers. Hopefully they return home soon.
Fun Fact: Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye is also known as Nike Davies, Nike Twins Seven Seven and Nike Olaniyi.
Let’s head back to Osogbo, the art gallery is a contemporary one storey building, entry fee is free and you only need cash to purchase artworks or souvenirs. I visited on a hot afternoon and there were no other tourists at the time – a huge win for me.
The tour of the premises commenced on the ground floor. After being acquainted with the tour guide, he provided in depth details about each artwork plus he was very enthusiastic. The floor featured wood carvings, oil paintings, embroidery, pencil sketches, furniture, batik and tie and dye. There were also a few photographs of Chief Nike’s achievements.
Fun Fact: In 2019, Rhodes University in Grahams town announced it would award Chief (Mrs) Nike Davies-Okundaye an honorary doctorate in fine arts.
The exhibit’s first floor was decorated with an astounding collection of metal works, ceramics, woven baskets, sculpture and traditional masks. It had a room filled with hand designed fabric. Nike Art Gallery lives up to its name and joins the league of others promoting Osogbo art and culture.
Chief Nike has earned respect for her strides in the art world, she balances her engagement with the galleries by visiting occasionally. She was at the centre during the Osun River festival, August last year. In her words, Nike Art Galleries are the voice of the artist.
Fun Fact: Nike Art Gallery was founded 1983 in Osogbo. Lagos centre is the newest of the four.
This Art Centre is dedicated to promoting and teaching the arts, culture, tradition, language and heritage of Nigeria. It has spanned many decades and it is one of the oldest in West Africa. The gallery is suitable for kids, friends and couples.
“Art comes in various and diverse forms, as such craftsmanship is categorized into different bits.” – anonymous
A large collection of paintings were displayed in the gallery. The variants included acrylic on canvas, oil on canvas, oil and ink on canvas and mixed media. I was captivated by some of the mesmerising piece.
Professor and Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka’s portrait was created using a method called pointilism. The artist made an outline sketch of the portrait then applied oil paint to dab the canvas.
This “greenish” piece is a nightly painting. It was done in dark hues and it tells the story of Makoko village, a fishing settlement commonly seen from the 3rd Mainland Bridge in Lagos. It’s credited to Babalola Olawale of Universal studio.
Applying a unique approach, this artist used burnt tin cans to create an aura of burning trees. The mixed media also contains oil paint, they outline the trees and ground surface while tin cans represent smoke fumes.
Batik and Tie and Dye are cloth manipulation techniques that implement ropes, the end results are delicate fabric with intricate patterns. The former requires wax.
Tie and Dye cost N10,000 for 5 yards. In the same vein, Batik shirts cost N4,500 on an average. One of the rooms upstairs (not shown) contained hand woven textile. They were Aso-Oke, Alari, Owujakun, Sanyan, Jakun and many more. These hand designed fabric can be worn to different occasions.
Our ancestors are represented in this room. Rumour has it that at night they possess the carvings and communicate with each other. They also feast, play and dance but as soon as any human approaches they retain their positions. Sounds a lot like Toy Story to me.
Meet Ella, a goddess crafted in wood. Ella’s sole purpose is to welcome visitors, she’s usually placed at the front of buildings.
This is a traditional chess game. The queen, knights and other characters are part of the board.
The image above shows two significant items. The first is “dun dun“, at the centre and far right are bangles.
The “dun dun” is a piece of metal attached to talking drums for aesthetics and interpretation. A common rhythm played with the dun dun goes, “ekabo shewa dada ni” meaning welcome…
Traditional bangles cost N2500 or more. Decades ago, they were worn by slaves and household members as a means of identification. They were also used for trade by barter, bangles for babies exist too.
After a comprehensive tour of the gallery, I was intrigued by the amount of “artsy” knowledge. Some other works in the collection were woven baskets, clay pots, soap stones and traditional masks. The soap stones represented yoruba deity, Sango was a common piece among the bunch.
If you’re looking for some extra adventure you can visit the Nike guest house, it is very close to the gallery. Ask for directions from the staff.
Nike Art Gallery is a bundle of talents that taps into rich resources of cultural background. It is recommended that you visit at least once.
This article is dedicated to Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye for taking Nigerian indigenous art to the world frontier.
Thank you for reading! Much love and safe trips.