western african art


Issa Samb aka Joe Ouakam

Country: Senegal

Style: Semi-Realist

Medium: Mixed

Fun Fact: As opposed to taking the gallery route, Issa Samb prefers to showcase his works in his garden in Lagos. Issa’s Garden is his own Gallery

Quote: All my life, I have battled with ideas, time. At all times, I explore the soul, that deep well


All Untitled

Crowned Head of a Yoruba Oni - South African

1100 - 1700 CE

This is a naturalistic portrait of a Yoruban Oni. It is made of a metal alloy that is similar to bronze, by using the lost-wax technique or an independently developed technique. It would have been attached to a wooden effigy, or body of the king. These set ups were usually used in funerary rites. Although the portrait is idealized, the king was probably much older in person. And for the most part the face is very naturalistic, but the eyes are a bit too close together, the lips were made to be perfectly symmetrical, the cheeks are fleshier than they should be, and the ears are too high. The lines on the face are actually scarification lines, this can be part of a coming of age ritual and can be very dangerous.


Paul Louise-Julie (USA) - Sculpting painting

New York-based artist Paul Louise-Julie has spent the last 7 years researching African civilizations and art, including a year-long journey to West Africa and the Sahara Desert. These sculptures (and 3D paintings) are part of a resulting body of work Louise-Julie created in response to his discoveries and experiences there. The pieces represent a successful collision of artistic methods and themes from multiple cultures, blending ideas from Western contemporary art, traditional African methods, and even Japanese-influenced origami and paper craft. The artworks you see here are among his first sculptures. Louise-Julie is also working on a companion graphic novel that will be released gradually starting later this year. (src. Colossal)

via Colossal © All images courtesy the artist

[more Paul Louise-Julie]


Angu Walters

Country: Cameroon

Style: Surrealism

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas

Fun Fact: His interest in painting started when he was a boy experimenting with ink from different pen colors, mixed and applied them on torn cardboards, which were sometimes hung on the walls of his mother’s sitting room. His mother invited Spee, a very famous artist to show him what the child was doing with the materials he could find in his milieu, thereafter the artist took him to his workshop, under his guidance so to better improve on his skills.




2. Kora Player III

3. Mask

4. The Broken Bridge

5. The Fulani. The Cow. The Milk

6.  Sunshine in my mind

7.Knowledge is Power


Appiah Ntiaw

Country: Ghana

Style: Figurative/Abstract

Medium: Acrylics on canvas

Fun Fact: now works for a firm dealing in leather bags and accessories in Denmark

Quote: I see myself as a motivator.  If I paint a woman carrying a pot for an example, I make it in such a way, that when one looks at my African art paintings, I try to do it in such a way that the woman looks nice and is dressed nicely.  People sometimes make Black African art such that we as African people, we look out of date, primitive, or dirty, which is an inaccurate whole perspective of Africa.  If you see my paintings, you always see Africans dressed nicely.  So I say in that way I am a motivator for self-esteem when I am depicting my people in my African art paintings.


1. Lift Up

2. Day Beauty

3. The Embrace



6. Music Makers

7. Reclaiming our Past

8. My Twins


Victor Ekpuk

Country: Nigeria

State of Beings (Totem) : installation, 220 x510x452x4 cm, acrylic vinyl and metal on wood panel and vinyl mat, 2013, Courtesy of the artist and Fondation Jean-Paul Blachère, Apt, France.

State of Beings is a mixed media installation that combines painting and sculpture in equal measure. The sculptural portion of the work stands upright against the wall whereas the painting is primarily on the floor. The two connect through the continuous lines of Nsibidi, an ancient graphic system that is autochthonous to south-eastern Nigeria and the Ejagham area of northern Cameroon. The swirling script-like patterns of State of Beings are also based on Ekpuk’s own invented signs. The fluidity of the symbols creates continuity in the installation, merging the wall into the ground seamlessly. Conceptually, the installation is a totemic portrayal of the male-female binary as composite of the human condition. The two figures physically face each other. Their emotional and psychic connection is evident in the thick red line that runs across the work, from the head of the male figure to the head of the female.

Victor Ekpuk was born in Nigeria in 1964. In 1989 Victor received his Bachelor of Fine Art degree (BFA), Obafemi Awowolo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, where he first explored the aesthetic philosophies in indigenous African art forms like Nsibidi, and Uli. Their economy of lines and encoded meanings led him to further explore drawing as writing, and to the invention of his own glyphs. In addition to operating a painting studio in Lagos, he was also a prominent editorial illustrator/political cartoonist for Nigerian newspapers before moving to the United States in 1999. He currently lives and works in Washington DC.


Yusuf Adebayo Cameron Grillo  aka Yusuf Grillo

Country: Nigeria

Style: Expressionist

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Fun Fact: He makes use of his western art training in many of his paintings, combining western art techniques with traditional Yoruba sculpture characteristics. His preference for color blue in natural settings paintings, is sometimes similar to the adire or resist-dye textiles used in Nigeria.



1. Girl in blue

2.The Flight

3. African Woman with Gele

4. The Blue Madonna

5. Humra

6. Mendicants

7. Blue Moon


Adebisi Fabunmi

Country: Ghana

Style: modern

Medium: Yarn/Wool, Embroidered tapestry on black cotton, stretched, Woodcut printing

Fun Fact: Fabunmi has worked in various media and styles. Among his most innovative creations are yarn or wool paintings. Inspired by the work of the Huichol Indians of Mexico, Fabunmi experimented with yarn, developing his own technique of adhering the yarn to a backing of heavy muslin or plywood. As his work progressed, Fabunmi used brighter colors. His subject matter includes themes related to traditional Yoruba life.



1.The Birth of Oshogbo

2.Missionary Activity in West Africa

3. The Village Square

4. I found my lost city

5.Combination No. 2


Jacob Afolabi

Country: Nigeria

Style: modern, Abstract

Medium: Ink on paper/Monotype

Fun Fact:Afolabi’s prints are evidence of his bold and dynamic handling of line. Whether the themes of his works are taken from traditional African life or Christianity, Afolabi controls the growth and rhythm of his lines to create fluid, organic compositions in which the figures both mass together as a unit and stand out as individual elements.





3. Untitled

4.Unto us a child is born



Dil Humphrey-Umezulike aka Dilomprizulike aka The Junkman Of Africa


Style: neo-expressionist sculpture

medium: Mixed/ Junk

Fun Fact: He creates sculptures and performances that are tied deeply to traditional African masquerade yet informed by postmodern awareness. He lives in what seems to be a junkyard in a permanent performance, recycling the detritus of Lagos into artwork, clothes, a home, and a way of life that questions much of what we take for granted.

Quote:Talent is not Enough.In my 25 years of art practice, I have severally encountered a curious need to attend to a characteristically fleeting and ever smaller world which seems also almost non-existent. This development tends to vehemently challenge established norms of art practice as well as the modules of art education, thereby dictating a significant shift in the exploration of artistic practices; not only in the packaging of aesthetics, myths and skills in artistic creations but more as a vehicle of expression; in respect to the place and iconic rendering of art in and for an evolving society. In no other time therefore is the demand for a dynamic representation of art so necessary.


1. The Face Of The City

2. Waiting for Bus


4.Waiting for the Bus


Abdulrazaq Ahmed


Style: Expresionism

Medium: Burnt Newspaper, Acrylic on Canvas,

Fun Fact:To reassure any family concerns about him pursuing a ‘real’ career, he chose to study Urban and Regional Planning at the Prestige Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, but quietly attended courses in the Fine Arts Department where he was privileged to see the works of Late Gani Oduntokun, a lecturer famous for his paintings and public sculptural installations in different cities of the North.


I believe that anyone can paint or draw something to appear new or whole but making the work look old, rustic, worn and battered is where the challenge is….It is this that I strive to achieve with my works. 
Thus,my works take on a certain “Character”.
Meanwhile to achieve this; I burnt lots of newspapers (which to me its symbolic-it mimics the society we live in) and stick them to a flat surface then work on it to make a statement .

The objective … This freedom (burnt newspapers) that has led to the annihilation of the elements of art needs to be tethered and guided for that is the only way by which the salvage from this destruction can be exhibited in new light and preserved for posterity, thus attaining a state of high function, purity, a more than ordinary moment of existence. And finally making my works look ancient, salvaged and restored.


1.Real Beauty

2.Adam and Eve

3. Dreams

4. Hope

5.Not Alone

Finial of a Speaker’s Staff (Okyeame Pomo) - Colonial Africa/Ashanti Tribe

1700 - Present

By: Kojo Bonsu 

This is a piece from West Africa that belonged to the Ashanti peoples. This group of people has a council of elders who regularly met with the leader. The head of this council was named the Okyeame and acted as the voice of the king when he was absent. He would carry a staff with this finial on top, so others knew he was the speaker. 

It depicts a male figure seated on a stool, wearing jewelry and holding an ostrich egg. This represents the man’s power. If he holds the egg too tightly, it will break and if he holds it too loosely it will break, so he has all the power in his hands.