Rufus Ogundele was born in 1946 In Oshogbo. Ogundele became a musician and an actor in his uncle, Duro Ladipo’s theatre company when he was a teenager. In 1963 he participated in Denis Williams’ workshop.
From the beginning, Rufus Ogundele worked on a large scale. Using emulsion paint, he first outlined one or two large figures in black. He then filled in the background with white and painted the remaining areas in blue, green and red. Ogundele began to develop his skills as a printmaker when Georgina Beier invited him and Jacob Afolabi to work in her house. There he learned the technique of linocut.
Ogundele combined the European artistic techniques he developed under Williams’ and especially Beier’s tutelage with the teachings of traditional Yoruba culture. His subject matter attests to his strong beliefs, which are rooted in Yoruba culture and life. Although raised as a Christian in the Anglican Christ Mission Society, he is a follower of the Yoruba god of iron Ogun. His family name is Ogundele, meaning Ogun worshipper. The dominant presence of colour in Ogundele’s work appears to underscore the power of Ogun as a factor in the artist’s life. The strong black outlines that Beier introduced him to are reminiscent of elements found in the German expressionist work of Nolde and Kirchner.
In 1968 he moved to Ife, Nigeria, where he assisted Solomon Wangboje in the Ori Olokun Centre and then became co-founder of the Ogun Timehin Studios.
In 1983 he was artist-in-residence at the Iwalewa-Haus in Bayreuth, Germany. He trained other artists at his studio.