Modern & Contemporary African Art | and CCA Lagos Benefit Auction

Modern & Contemporary African Art | and CCA Lagos Benefit Auction

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 61. Savannah Sunset .

Uche Okeke

Savannah Sunset

Lot Closed

March 22, 04:04 PM GMT


4,000 - 6,000 GBP

Lot Details


Uche Okeke



Savannah Sunset

signed and dated 1965 (lower right); titled and dated (on the reverse)

gouache on paper

51 by 64cm., 20 by 25¼in.

Please note that this work is sold unframed

Collection of Uche Okeke (1933–2016)

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Uche Okeke was still an undergraduate student at the Nigeria College of Arts, Science and Technology in Zaria (today known as Ahmadu Bello University) when he founded the Zaria Art Society with his classmates, among them Demas Nwoko , Yusuf Grillo, Simon Okeke, Okechukwu Emmanuel Odita, and Bruce Onobrakpeya. As the first tertiary level art school in Nigeria, they were exposed to conventional Western academic training in draughtsmanship and observational realism. As a direct response, on 9 October 1958, they founded the Zaria Art Society, with the aim of decolonizing the visual arts as taught by expatriate Europeans at the institution. This group, later referred to as the Zaria Rebels, would become some of the most important figures in Nigerian modernism.

The formation of the group coincided with a period dominated by nationalistic fervour and with the impending attainment of independence in 1960. The Rebels believed in the celebration of indigenous cultures as a central part of the movement, and the use of unique subject matter in their work. Uche Okeke and his counterparts would have discussions outside of class, sharing ideas and impressing upon each other the importance of documenting the traditions and folklore of the varied cultures of Nigeria people. This ideology became known as ‘Natural Synthesis’ and is essential to bear in mind when confronted with a work by this masterful artist. Okeke counted himself “a student of Igbo lore and thinking,” and believed that “going back in time is progressive rather than regressive”. Despite being filled with references of traditional Nigerian Igbo culture and Uli technique, Okeke’s work does not present itself as an indigenous piece by any means. Instead, what becomes apparent is the complexity of the relationship between European and African aesthetics.