Spotlight Wednesday | Tola Wewe


[dropcap custom_class=”normal”]Tola Wewe is said to be one of the most talented minds from the African continent. He started as a cartoonist before becoming a full time studio artist in 1991. He attended University of Ife in 1983, where he bagged a degree in Fine Art. In 1986, he went further to obtain a Masters degree in African Visual Arts from the University of Ibadan, Oyo State. [/dropcap] Tola Wewe’s works has three major influences which are; his academic training at Ife, his Ijaw water spirit mask masters research programme and the Yoruba society in particular. All these were what influenced his early work.

women by tola wewe-digest.bellafricana

In February 1989, Wewe founded the Ona movement. A group consisting of committed scholars, critics and practicing artists with the aim of pursuing artistic excellence through the adaptation and interpretation of traditional materials & methods, forms & styles of contemporary Yoruba art and design.

tola wewe

Date of Birth: 1959

Place of Birth: Okitipupa, Ondo State, Nigeria

Wewe’s fashion of drawing comes from the Ona symbols of the Yoruba people 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 is a cross of African and western sensibilities and images, sparkling his own training and experience as an international artist. His work is applauded for their originality, simplicity, surface texture and mastery of colours.


Some of his recent exhibitions and workshops include:

  • Solo exhibition, Galerie des Beaux Art, Heeze, Holland
  • “Recent Paintings by Tola Wewe”, Solo Exhibition, Coningsby Gallery, London, UK Sept. – Oct. 2005
  • Artist in Residence, Platteforum Art Centre, Denver, Colorado, USA July 2004
  • “Nigeria: 48 hours with the Children of the Turtle”, Group Exhibition, Espace Alberica Gallery, Paris, France May 2004
  • Die kraft der Farte, Exhibition, Germany 2002

two men by tola wewe-digest.bellafricana

Some of the works captured his experiences in politics, his day to day encounter, the environment and others. They include: Dance in the sun, Taiwo ati Kehinde, Forest of colours, Victims on e-scan, While waiting for the arrival of Mr Governor, Twins, The Return of our mother, Marriage of the Gods, Ladies of the Night Wind and others.

TOLA WEWE, FORTUNE OF CREATION PART 2, 1994-digest.bellafricana

The piece, “While waiting for the arrival of Mr Governor”,  describes women dancing in the sun while waiting for the arrival of the governor is a narrative of his experience in politics while “The return of  our mother”, gives an account of his experience in the wake of his mother’s ordeal in the hands of kidnappers  and others.


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