Contemporary African Art Exhibition Series

Tola Wewe

Tola Wewe, born in Okitipupa, Ondo State, Nigeria in 1959, trained and graduated with a degree in Fine Art from University of Ife in 1983. He then went on to obtain a Masters degree in African Visual Arts from University of Ibadan, Oyo State in 1986. Tola Wewe worked as a cartoonist before becoming a full time studio artist in 1991.

At the beginning of his career, three major influences characterised Tola Wewe's works; the first was his basic academic training at Ife, the second his masters research programme in the Ijaw water spirit mask and thirdly the society particularly the Yoruba society. His style draws from the Ona symbols of the Yoruba and his themes project traditional lore and myths of his native Yoruba culture. Wewe describes himself more as a witness than an author, "communicating with the spirits of the ancestors, and drawing out the invisible spirits - the anjonnu, emere and the ebora - who make the art works…I am the vehicle, and they are the drivers. We go on these strange journeys to the most remote ends of imaginative experience."

His work, defiant of classification, 'silently grows on viewers, blending with their moods, simultaneously taking their minds to strange and familiar colourful places full of false nostalgia. Often the attraction is mutual and instant: for those who can consume the spectacular banquet of colours, Wewe cooks up spicy visual rhythms, sometimes playful, sometimes serious, sometimes dense, sometimes scattered, carefully orchestrated, although seemingly extravagant.' (Moyo Okediji, University of Colorado).

Tola Wewe is a founding member of the Ona movement which emerged in February 1989. The movement is a group of scholars, critics and practicing artists committed to pursuing artistic excellence through the adaptation and interpretation of traditional materials & methods, forms & styles of contemporary Yoruba art and design.

Tola Wewe, whose works are widely acclaimed for their originality, simplicity, surface texture and mastery of colours, is considered one of the most talented minds from the African continent. His work is a hybrid of African and western sensibilities and images, reflecting his own training and experience as an international artist. Beyond Nigeria, Tola Wewe's work has been exhibited across Europe and the US. As a full time artist, he lives and works in Ondo State, Nigeria.

Selected Exhibitions

Lola Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria , centre Culturel Francais,
Cotonou, Rep of Benin
Lola Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria
Parish Gallery, Georgetown, Washington DC, U.S.A   2001
Galerie Im Schlossgarten, Gauangelloch, Germany   2002
Kunst Forum Das Carre, Heidelberg, Germany
Galerie Im Schlossgarten, Gauangelloch, Germany
Elf Village, Port-Harcourt, Nigeria   2003
Platteforum, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A
Galerie Im Schlossgarten, Gauangelloch, Germany
Espace Alberica, Paris, France   2004
Nimbus Art Centre, Lagos, Nigeria   2004
12th Pan African Film/Art Festival, Los Angeles, California, USA
Nicon Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria   2004
Coningsby Gallery, London   2005
Neo Art Gallery, Denver, Colorado, U.S.A
Nimbus Art Centre, Lagos, Nigeria   2005
Galerie des Beaux Arts, Heeze, Holland,
modern African art exhibition at BTJ, Lund, Sweden
Galerie Im Schlossgarten, Gauangelloch, Germany
Modern African art exhibition at Mäklarhuset Hellborg & Partners, Lund, Sweden   2006


Outstanding Awards

"Merit For Creativity", An award presented by the Culture and Creative Art Forum [CCAF],in recognition of outstanding contribution to creativity   2003
"Artist Honoree", an award presented by the County of Los Angeles, California, U.S.A   2004
"Overall Winner" a certificate of merit awarded by GUINNESS Nigeria Plc to Tola Wewe, in a competitive exhibition titled "Working with communities to make life better"   2004

"Outstanding Alumnus Award" by the Dept. of Fine Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University,Ile Ife, Nigeria


Art Collections

Many of Tola Wewe's paintings are in public and private collections in different parts of the world. Two paintings were recently collected by the Denver Art Museum, U.S.