H x W x D (panel): 92 x 121.9 cm (36 1/4 x 48 in.)
Okeke trained at the Nigerian College of Art, Science and Technology, Zaria (1957-62) where he helped found the Zaria Art Society, later known as the "Zaria Rebels." In 1963 he studied stained glass and mosaic techniques at the Franz Mayer Studio in Munich. He was a member of the Mbari Artists and Writers Club, Ibadan, and later director of the Mbari Art Centre Workshop in Enugu (1964-67). He also taught at the University of Nigeria at Nsukka for many years. He has shown his works in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Africa and Europe.
This brightly colored, abstract painting illustrates Okeke's mastery of modernist forms and techniques that he skillfully adapts to address local themes--in this case, masked spirit dancers that appear at funerals. As a major proponent of Natural Synthesis, an artistic manifesto designed by the Zaria Rebels, Okeke turned to his knowledge of Igbo culture to create a viable synthesis of tradition-based and modernist artistic forms.
Horizontal oil painting on board, with broad areas of shades of orange, with smaller twisted shapes in yellow and white. Overlaying the color are highly stylized figures in black lines.
Dr. Joanne Eicher, St. Paul, after 1961 to 1997
Microhistories of an Ex-Centric Modernism, Kunstsammlung Nordrherin-Westfalen, Dusseldorf, Germany, November 10-March 10, 2019
Histórias Afro-Atlânticas, Museu de Arte de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, June 28-October 21, 2018
Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic, Tate Liverpool, January 29-April 25, 2010
Pavilion, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., October 2, 2002
The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994, Museum Villa Stuck, February 15-December 30, 2000; Haus der Kulturen, Berlin, May 18-July 22, 2001; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, September 3-December 30, 2001
Poetics of Line: Seven Artists of the Nsukka Group, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., October 22, 1997-April 26, 1998
Enwenzor, Okwui (ed). 2001. The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994. Munich: Prestel, p. 80.
Frank, Patrick. 2009. Prebles' Artforms: An Introduction to the Visual Arts, 9th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall (probably in "Modern Art Beyond the West" section).
Gaensheimer, Susanne. 2018. Museum Global: Microhistories of an Ex-Centric Modernism. Düsseldorf: Kunstsammlung Nordhein-Westfalen.
Nicholls, Andrea. 1997. "The Poetics of the Line: Seven Artists of the Nsukka Group." Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Press, p. 5.
Okeke-Agulu, Chika. 2015. Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Ottenberg, Simon. 1997. New Traditions from Nigeria: Seven Artists of the Nsukka Group. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Press, p. 38.
Ross, Stephen. 2015. The Modernist World. New York: Routledge.
Toledo, To´mas. 2018. Histórias afro-atlânticas. São Paulo: Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, MASP: Instituto Tomie Ohtake. illustrated.