Tola Wewe


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).

Described as one of the most talented minds from the African continent, Tola Wewe’s works are widely acclaimed for their originality, simplicity, surface texture and mastery of colours. After graduating from the Universities of Ife and Ibadan, he became a founding member of the Ona movement. His style draws from the Ona symbols of the Yoruba culture and his themes project traditional folklores and myths of his native culture. Beyond Nigeria, Tola Wewe’s works has been exhibited across the world including Coningsby Gallery, London, Espace Alberica Gallery, Paris to mention a few.

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 characterized Tola Wewe’s works; the first was his basic academic training at Ife, the second his masters research program 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 folklores 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 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.

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