The Sea Ghosts, 1970s
Pen and ink on yellow cloth
30Ĺ" by 32Ĺ"
BETTE ALBURGER, Times Correspondent 10/30/2004
Twins Seven-Seven is one of his native landís most prominent artists, and he now lives in Darby Borough. The man with the unusual name and exceptional talent is a true renaissance man of the arts. He not only paints, but also draws, sculpts, designs textiles and does metalwork. Whatís more, heís a published poet and autobiographic writer, has produced several albums of his own music and has led his ensemble of Nigerian musicians and dancers in performances in Australia, the Netherlands, Zimbabwe and Japan. He was born in Nigeria in 1944 as Prince Taiwo Olaniyi Wyewale-Toyeje Oyelale
The pseudonym, or assumed name, by which heís widely known -- Prince Twins Seven-Seven-- alludes to the tragic fact that heís the only surviving child of the seven sets of twins born to his mother. "Prince," as the artist prefers to be called, fills his paintings with fantastic creatures that critics say seem to leap off the canvas toward the viewer. The paintings are said to evoke visions of a fantasy world with ties to Yoruba oral traditions, myths, religion and the multi-talented artistís own personal experiences.
He began his artistic career in the 1960s with informal workshops held in Oshogbo, a Yoruba town in western Nigeria. This diverse gathering or community of young visual, literary and performance artists was largely ignored by Nigeriaís academically trained artists. Defying narrow categorization, the artists of the Oshogbo School forged an artistic identity that gained them international fame and patronage. Before the 1960s ended, Princeís exhibitions in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and Munich, Germany, brought him recognition around the globe.
The works of the artist, who came to the United States in the early 1970s and taught at Merced College in California, have been shown in many solo and group exhibitions in Africa, Europe and America. Among them is the Pompidou Museum of Modern Art in Paris. Theyíve also been purchased by private collectors and public galleries, such as the Contemporary Art Museum in Houston, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City, the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., and the National Gallery of Modern Art in Lagos, Nigeria.
Prince Twins Seven-Seven
Prince noted heís been promoting African art and culture since age 20. "Iím very proud and honored to be in the show," he said about the special "African Art, African Voices" exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the centerpiece of a lively celebration of African culture. It includes almost 200 works of art from the perspectives of the sub-Sahran cultures in which they were created. Featured are handsomely carved masks and sculptures from Western Africa, exquisite beaded jewelry from Kenya and gold weights from Ghana. There are elaborate costumes from the Yoruba, Dan and Mende, and powerfully encrusted Mande huntersí shirts. There also is a rare royal throne room, complete with carved wood stools and sculptures of ancestral leaders from the Kom Kingdom of Cameroon. The exhibition also showcases more than 40 contemporary works created in Africa from the late 1960s to the present.
In addition to Twins Seven-Seven, represented are such artists as Malick Sidibe, Yinka Shonibare and Magdalena Odundo.
- If You Go: "African Art, African Voices" runs through Jan. 2, 2005, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street in Philadelphia. The museum is open 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; 10 a.m.- 8:45 Friday. Closed Monday. Admission to the special exhibition is free with museum admission, which is $10 for adults and $7 for ages 62 and older, students with identification and ages 13-18. No charge for age 12 and younger. Admission on Sundays is pay-what-you-wish all day.
Also provided free to visitors of the exhibition, courtesy of Target Corporation, is a recorded tour narrated by collaborating African artists and scholars.
Introduction is by Cheryl McClenney-Brooker, the art museumís director of external affairs.
©The Daily Times 2004
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