Tola Wewe is a visual artist from Ondo State in Nigeria and was born in 1959. He trained and graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Ife, Osun State in 1983. He then went on to obtain a Masters degree in African Visual Arts from the University of Ibadan, Oyo State in 1986. He worked as a cartoonist before becoming a full-time studio artist in 1991.
He is also a founding member of Ona movement, which emerged in February 1989. The Ona movement is a group of scholars, critics and practising artists committed to pursuing artistic excellence through the adaptation and interpretation of traditional materials and methods, forms and styles of contemporary Yoruba art and design. He has participated in various group shows locally and internationally, as well as many solo exhibitions.
Tola Wewe was also a Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Ondo State in Nigeria. Even while holding a governmental position, he continued to find time to paint whilst promoting tourism in Ondo which contributed to Nigerian tourism as a whole. During his tenure, he was responsible for the organisation of the Mare annual Festival, which involved mountain climbing, cultural activities like music, dance, drama and marathon race. He also organised the first international conference on culture in Akure, where international scholars, culture practitioners from different parts of the world came together to discuss ‘Culture and the Challenges of Development in Nigeria.’ Click here to read full article by encomium where this information was sourced.
Wewe’s style stands out, which some might liken to Oshogbo art movement in terms of form and shape. Although, you can easily identify his piece at a first glance. His unique style has influenced many, some of which I saw when I visited Nike’s Art and Cultural Centre in Abuja. Click here to read more about my trip and great art discoveries.
The renowned artist who sees himself more as a witness than an author said “communicating with the spirits of the ancestors and drawing out the invisible spirits, the Anjonnu, Emere and the Ebora, who make the artworks. I am the vehicle, and they are the drivers. We go on these strange journeys to the most remote ends of imaginative experience. Wewe, credit his style of painting to the Ona symbols of the Yoruba culture. This he said remains his main source of inspiration, and his themes dwell on the traditional myths of his native Yoruba culture.
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