PORTRAIT OF CHIEF J.D. AKEREDOLU
signed and dated 1957 (lower right)
oil on board
147 by 106cm., 57¾ by 41¾in.
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The canvas is stable and unlined. There is separation in the areas of darker pigment, mainly to the horses's bodies (ref images). Slightly uneven varnish. Stretcher marks are visible to the left hand and central vertical bars, and there is a large dent to the canvas to the lower half of the left framing edge that may be corrected through restretching.
The work is otherwise in good condition. Examination under ultra-violet light reveals no obvious repairs or retouching.
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Private Collection, Lagos
Lagos, Nigerian Council for the Advancement of Art and Culture, Nigerian Art Exhibition, 1-22 October 1960
C. Okeke-Agulu, Postcolonial Modernism, p.145, illustrated on p.119
This portrait tells the story of two of the most important Nigerian artists of the pre-independence era, Chiefs Akinola Lasekan (1916-72) and Justus D. Akeredolu (1915-84). Both men were born in Owo, in Ondo State, and set up a studio together in Lagos in 1940. In 1945, they travelled to London to exhibit and further their studies; in the years leading to independence, both artists were looking to master their respective media (portrait painting and thorn carving) to represent the Yoruba people as proud, intelligent and independent, unlike the stereotypes fashioned by their colonizers.
Works by both artists were collected and exhibited by the Harmon Foundation in the United States in 1958-59, and both exhibited at the Nigerian Independence Exhibition in 1960, where the present lot was also shown. One of Lasekan’s best-known paintings, this depiction of his friend and highly-respected contemporary is a superlative example of his 1950s portraits, clearly demonstrating the influence of his early training in textiles in the attention he pays to the detail of his sitter’s woven and embroidered chiefly attire called Agbada, adorned with a ‘Fila’ (hat) and coral beads. The ensemble is made from Aso Oke, specifically sanyan a distinctive material with crimson hues reserved for chiefs during their presentation by peers to a King or for attending court.