Bruce Onobrakpe

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The practice of fastening crystal glass bead on to plywood by Jimoh Buraimoh, solicits an expansion to the material definition of the medium of painting to include, elegant and radiating colour of beads on board. The expressive quality of Western mosaic mural form, deeply inspired the art of Buraimoh in 1965 but the grandeur, design and craft of the beaded crown of ancient Yoruba monarch, provided the material substance for its representation. The introduction of these two elements makes Buraimoh’s work a hybrid of Western architectural aesthetic and the traditional splendour that accompanies the design of Yoruba royal crown. Buraimoh mastered bead painting after trying several techniques. The challenge was to get these beads adhere firmly after being inlaid, first on canvas and then on board. An epoxy compound or a sort of resin adhesive became one of the standard appropriated substances layered on to the surface of either canvas or plywood, before these coloured pieces of bright flushing beads that sometimes appear as if they were rhinestone, are inlaid. And this is after the artist had experimented with wet cement, to prevent the beads from peeling. Yoruba history and custom provide the themes for Buraimoh’s work. His figures are renowned for their humour and animation. They recall scenes from Yoruba oral literature. Buraimoh sometimes introduces oil to compliment his glass beads. This combination means that while the beads are used to outline and define the figures, the oil covers the outer area of the board. The colour around the area of the board, pastel-like, tunes down the brightness that emanates from the beads. Before bead painting, Buraimoh had explored the textile design of batik and had briefly produced numerous etchings.

JIMOH BURAIMOH was born in 1943 in Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria. Chief Jimoh Buraimoh is one of the most influential artists to emerge from the 1960’s experimental workshops known as the Osogbo School of Art. Characteristic of the Osogbo movement, his work intermingles western media and Yoruba style and motif. Prolific in oil painting and etching, as well as his signature bead paintings and mosaic murals, Buraimoh is among distinguished artists permanently displayed at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. In addition to his smaller works, his colorful large-scale mosaic murals adorn public areas in Nigeria, Europe and the United States.
In 1964 he attended the famous art workshop organized by Ulli Beier. After completing his one-year Art and Design programme from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, he was sponsored by the Goethe Institut in Lagos in 1976 to study respectively at the University of Munich and Berlin. His works have been exhibited within and outside Nigeria. They can also been found in Museums both in Europe and the USA

JIMOH BURAIMOH was born in 1943 in Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria. Chief Jimoh Buraimoh is one of the most influential artists to emerge from the 1960’s experimental workshops known as the Osogbo School of Art.

A pioneer in the history of modern art in Africa, Chief Buraimoh is the continent’s first bead painter, having in 1964, created a contemporary art form, inspired by the Yoruba tradition of incorporating beadwork designs into ceremonial fabrics and beaded crowns. He represented Nigerian artists at the First All African Trade Fair in Nairobi, Kenya in 1972 and his work was presented at the Second World Black Arts Festival (FESTAC) in Lagos in 1977. In 1983 he became the first Nigerian to be awarded a membership in the Contemporary World Association of Mosaic Artists (Associazione Internazionale Mosaicisti Contemporanei) based in Ravenna, Italy and contributed to a global public-art statement for world peace in Ravenna’s Parco Della Pace. The 1996 recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Center for African and African American Art and Culture in San Francisco, California, Chief Buraimoh has enjoyed international acclaim and worldwide popularity throughout his career. His 1997 mosaic mural, The Elders, commissioned by the City of Atlanta, Georgia USA and installed in the City’s Howell Park, received an Award of Excellence from the Atlanta Urban Design Commission as The Best Mosaic Mural of the Year.

Chief Buraimoh’s works, widely exhibited in solo and group presentations, continue to be shown at the world’s finest galleries: In 2002 Chief Buraimoh was featured in Visions of Yoruba, a two-artist show at the October Gallery in London, England. Important retrospectives in the United States include Colours of Africa, Contemporary Art from the Continent at Diggs Gallery at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina in 2003; The World Moves – We Follow: Celebrating African Art at McClung Museum in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2002; and A Concrete Vision: Oshogbo Art in the 1960’s at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington DC in 2000. His works are central to Beads, Body and Soul: Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe, a traveling exhibit organized by the Fowler Museum of Cultural History in California and shown at Carlos Museum at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in 1999.

In addition to creating art, Chief Buraimoh is a dedicated teaching artist. In 1974, as a guest of the United States government, he taught bead painting at Haystack Mountain Craft School in Maine and lectured at schools in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston and Baltimore and at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. He frequently conducts workshops in conjunction with his exhibits and contributes to outreach programs like October Gallery’s Engage in Art Project in London and the arts education program in the primary school system of Manchester, England. Since 1997, he has been very active in community projects in the United States, especially in Atlanta, Georgia where he recurrently contributes to ArtsCool and other teaching programs sponsored by the City of Atlanta and the Fulton County Arts Council. Artwork created by Buraimoh and his students in city-sponsored programs are permanently displayed at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

In The Heritage, an autobiography published in 2000, Chief Buraimoh details his life and journeys into the creative process of the artist’s mind. This inspiring story is a “must read” for culture buffs and art lovers around the world.

He currently lives in Oshogbo and works from his studio.

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