Transcending Boundaries: The Best of Contemporary West African Art

Culture Trip

Transcending Boundaries, the leading platform for contemporary West African art, returns to London in March 2014 with a busy and insightful program of exhibitions, discussion panels and screenings that offer an insight into West Africa’s art and culture.

Tayo Quaye, Dancing Masquarade

Following the success of the inaugural Transcending Boundaries exhibition last year, termed The Best African Party in 2013, the largest show of West African art ever to be held in London, returns in 2014. As a leading platform to celebrate excellence in West African contemporary art presented by Aabru Art in London, the exhibition showcases the work of master artists from the region. Transcending Boundaries 2014 provides an unrivaled opportunity to buy into the art world’s hottest new region and aims to encourage mainstream international growth in the rapidly emerging African art market.

Ben Osaghae, Chop and Quench, 2013

Featured Artists:

Ben Osaghae

Born in Benin City in 1962, Ben Osaghae trained as an artist at the Auchi polytechnic, Edo State, Nigeria in 1986, specializing in Painting. After his National Service and a three-year teaching contract ending in 1990, he returned to his Alma Mata to become Senior Instructor in Painting, Life Drawing and History of Art between 1991 and 1995. He resigned from this post to devote more time and energy to ArtHours Studios, his private studio which he created whilst working as a teacher. Osaghae has had four solo exhibitions in Nigeria and has participated in several group shows in Europe and the United States. He has an impressive list of patrons and collectors all over the world. He also enjoys writing prefaces and critiques in catalogs of fellow exhibiting artists.

Abiodun Olaku

Abiodun Olaku was born in Lagos in 1958 and trained as an artist at the Yaba College of Technology. He worked within the Civil Service from 1982 and left after five years to concentrate on his artist pursuits. Olaku is well known in Nigeria for his realist approach and exceptional drawing ability. His oil canvases are suffused with atmospheric light, shapes and subtle color. He is one of the most sought after Nigerian artists today.

Duke Asidere

Duke Asidere was born in Apapa, Lagos, in 1961. He studied Art in Warri and attended the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Having graduated in 1988, he continued to an MFA (Masters in Fine Arts) and after teaching art for five years at Auchi Polytechnic (1990-1995), he left to focus on his own work. Duke works mostly in oil, and on a large canvas. Having exhibited widely in Nigeria, Europe and the Americas, he has been gaining international recognition recently through Transcending Boundaries 2013 and the Africa Now auction at Bonhams.

Duke Asidere ‘A writer for corrupt politicians’

Fidelis Odogwu

Fidelis Odogwu was born in Agbor, Delta State in 1970 and graduated as a sculptor from Auchi Polytechnic in 1991. During his studies Fidelis trained with renowned sculptor Ben Osawe (a full-time studio artist, he has had several exhibitions in Nigeria and overseas). Working with metal, Odogwu deals with a variety of themes and creates inspired works that demonstrate not only his understanding of the materials, but also his innate ability to subjugate them in accordance with his desired objective.

Edosa Ogiugo

Born in Ibadan in 1961, Edosa Ogiugo studied art at Yaba College of Technology, graduating in 1985. Following a stint in advertising he started focusing solely on art in 1992. He now lives and works in Nigeria and has exhibited extensively throughout the world. He is featured in both public and private collections in Africa, Europe and America. Ogiugo’s works are unrestrained, bold in color and often feature animals and people in full motion. He pioneered the Nigerian Guild of Fine Art that brings together full time studio artists from all over Nigeria, giving them a collective voice.

Edosa Ogiugo, Merry Hearts, 2013/2014

Kolade Oshinowo

Born in Nigeria in 1948, Kolande Oshinowo is a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists, Visual Arts Society of Nigeria and the Arts Council of the African Studies Association. He holds a BA (Hons) in Fine Art and was appointed Deputy Rector of the Yaba College of Technology in 1996. Oshinowo is probably Nigeria’s most prolific artist. His experiments in painting lean towards figurative analysis, which is expressed with naturalistic tendencies embedded within deft brushstrokes of muted colors. His paintings engage with the world around him, communicating that, indeed, ‘art is life’.

Bunmi Babatunde

Born in 1957, Bunmi Babatunde studied sculpture at Yaba College of Technology, graduating in 1983. He has participated in over 25 exhibitions at home and overseas and produced work for both public and private commissions. His large-scale ebony works are instantly recognized in Nigeria due to his popularity and unique style. He holds great potential for the international market – all pieces presented in international exhibitions have been sold.

Bunmi Babatunde, Dancer

Reuben Ugbine

Born in Ghana in 1956, Reuben Ugbine studied art at Auchi Polytechnic and sculpture at Yaba College of Technology. He worked as a lecturer at Auchi Polytechnic between 1980 and 1987, but left to pursue a full-time career as an artist. He is a prolific sculptor who has exhibited in Nigeria, South Africa and the Middle East. A tireless experimentalist, he popularized figurative terracotta based on traditional Nigerian costumes. His favorite medium is wood, which he uses to create three-dimensional pieces including symbolic tribal masks. Reuben playfully manipulates the convex and the concave in his works.

Sam Ovraiti

Sam Ovraiti was born in Zaria in 1961. Having graduated from Auchi Polytechnic in 1981 with an HND in painting and an MFA (Masters in Fine Arts) from the University of Benin he lectured at Auchi for 8 years, leaving in 2002 to work as a full-time artist in Lagos. He has exhibited extensively across Africa, Europe and the Americas. Ovraiti uses a range of mediums, but is best known for his watercolor works depicting Fulani women and local folklore themes. Sam is a gifted artist whose spirituality comes through in his work.

Sam Ovraiti, Universal, 2012/2014

Tayo Quaye

Tayo Quaye was born in 1954, starting his career as an artist in 1974 when he was given an apprenticeship with master-printer Bruce Onobrakpeya for two years. After this training he went on to study at the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, where he continued to study printing. Exhibitions of his work have appeared in Africa, USA, Trinidad and Tobago and France. Specializing in line-printing, Quaye’s work is highly symbolic and vividly bright. Some of his pieces can be found in the V&A and Smithsonian.

Rom Isichei

Rom Isichei was born in Asaba, Nigeria, 1966. From 1984 to 1989 he studied at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, where he graduated with both an ordinary and higher National Diploma in Fine Art, during which he specialized in painting. For seven years, he worked in advertising before finally deciding to channel his energy into full time studio work in 1997. He has exhibited both within and outside Nigeria. He lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria but came to London to study for a masters degree at the Chelsea College of Art and Design.

Rom Isichei, ‘Beguiled by the red book, 2014

Events programme

Transcending Boundaries 2014 also has a full program of educational events available to the public between 17 and 22 March. Artist tours and panel discussions with Biyi Bandele (Director of Half of a Yellow Sun), Chris Spring (British Museum), Nkem Ifejika (Business Journalist), Giles Peppiatt (Bonhams) and Abiodun Olaku (West African Artist and Founder of the Guild of Fine Arts) will take place at the Mall Galleries.

Monday 17 March, 13.00 – 13.30
Artist and Curatorial Tour: Transcending Boundaries Artists Tour with Anshu Bahanda (Founder of Aabru Art) and a selection of exhibiting artists who will discuss their work.
Monday 17 March, 18.00 – 19.00
Behind the Scenes at Bonhams:VIP Tour for Aabru Guests with contemporary African Art specialist, Giles Peppiatt, at Bonhams on New Bond Street .
Tuesday 18 March, 19.00 – 22.00
VIP Champagne Launch Party Music by DJ Peter Adjaye
Wednesday 19 March, 11.00 – 11.30
Artist and Curatorial Tour: Transcending Boundaries Artists Tour with Anshu Bahanda (Founder of Aabru Art) and a selection of exhibiting artists who will discuss their work.
Thursday 20 March, 19.15 – 20.00
‘Co-existence or Contradiction’: Business and Art panel discussion with Biyi Bandele (Director of Half of a Yellow Sun), Baroness Lola Young (Life Peer at the House of Lords), Nkem Ifejika (Business Journalist) and Ede Dafinone (African Art Collector).
Thursday 20 March, 20.00 – 21.00
Drinks at Mall Galleries
Thursday 20 March, 21.00 – 22.30
Special Preview Screening of Half of a Yellow Sun, courtesy of Soda Pictures, at the ICA
Friday 21 March, 14.30 – 15.30
‘Pioneers in the world of African Art’: Art panel discussion with Chris Spring (British Museum), Giles Peppiatt (Bonhams) and Abiodun Olaku (West African Artist and Founder of the Guild of Fine Arts).

Saturday 22 March, 14.00 – 15.00

Gasworks Tours: VIP Tour of Gasworks discussing ‘African Residencies’ led by Alessio Antonelli, Director of Gasworks

Tickets for the drinks and screening events, which are part of the VIP events, are available from Eventbrite. Booking is essential for all VIP events; please register interest by emailing

Transcending Boundaries 2014 runs from 17 March until 22 March at London’s Mall Galleries.
Article based on materials provided by Transcending Boundaries.

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