H x W: 23.3 x 19 cm (9 3/16 x 7 1/2 in.) (image size)
The first half of the twentieth century gave rise to widespread experimentation with new media by Africa’s artists. Many of Nigeria’s artists, for example, explored new techniques, including oil painting and printmaking. As elsewhere on the continent, some of these artists received training at local and international art schools, while others were taught in community workshops offered by expatriate artists.
Modern African artwork addressed a range of subject matter, from political concerns of the day to depictions of a rapidly transforming landscape due to social and environmental changes.
A major artistic transformation occurred in Oshogbo, a Yoruba town in western Nigeria, in the early 1960s. Expatriates Susanne Wenger, Ulli Beier and Georgina Beier introduced new techniques and materials to Yoruba artists and urged them to find their own forms of expression. Wenger, from Austria, worked with the New Sacred Art Movement to preserve a grove of trees sacred to the river goddess Oshun. Ulli Beier, a teacher from Germany, organized art workshops conducted by Guyanese art historian and artist Denis Williams, African American artist Jacob Lawrence and English artist Georgina Beier. The workshops focused on printmaking but were intended to help participants learn to support themselves as artists. Many of them have gone on to create important family legacies of artists. Twins Seven-Seven, for example, has influenced generations of artists on three continents. Others applied their work to various media.
Born Taiwo Olaniyi Oyewale Aitoyeje, the artist chose the name Twins Seven-Seven as a reference to the good fortune and spiritual power of being a twin in a series of twins. A multitalented musician and artist associated with Oshogbo, he paints, draws, sculpts, designs textiles and works in metal. This piece, entitled "Amos Tutuola's Head," is part of a group of etchings the artist created to illustrate the works of famous Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola (1920-1997). Populated with spirits and ghosts, Twins Seven-Seven's etchings speak well to the writer's fantastical stories; with his imagery also tying to Yoruba oral traditions, myths, religion and his own personal experiences.
Etching on paper featuring a large round head with large eyes, triangular shaped nose and long elliptical shaped mouth filling the upper half of the picture. Emanating from the head in the lower half of the picture are a series of linear designs of various types.
Victoria Scott, Santa Fe, New Mexico, -- to 1999
Encounters with the Contemporary, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., January 7, 2001-January 6, 2002