Details & Cataloguing

Modern and Contemporary African Art


Ben Enwonwu
1921 - 1994
signed and dated 1987 (lower right)
gouache, pen and ink on cardboard
74 by 53.5 cm., 29 by 21in.
Painted in 1987
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Private Collection, London

Catalogue Note

Ogolo was created in 1987 when Enwonwu attended the burial of his elder brother where masquerades of Mmonwu Ogongo (tall masks) and Ogolo were performed.

Reflecting on this experience, which impacted his final artist years, Enwonwu said:
‘I saw the Ogolo among a host of other masquerades during my brother’s funeral, and it impressed me a lot…I have focused on the Ogolo masked form that is closely related to the Agboghao Mmuo and Ayolungbe mask. It is part of my recent important works [and] a steady flow of thought and development’ (Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie, Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist, Rochester, 2008, p. 187).

Over the next decade, Enwonwu created over fifty masquerade themed works of paintings, sculptures, and drawings. Ogolo is one of the very first paintings Enwonwu created of this series, which displayed a range of contexts, but consistent forms.

Ogolo is illustrated with a bright blue sky, contrasted with yellow toned dancers on the ground. The vibrant nature of this painting reflects the warm experience, which Enwonwu reflects on, from the burial of his brother. As a continuation to his painting techniques, Ogolo demonstrates the same use of multiple dancers layered in the background, to further accentuate the movement in the scene.

Modern and Contemporary African Art