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This thesis is based on twelve-selected artist from fine Arts
Department, Ahmadu Bello University who graduated from 1981 –
2002. The selected artists were chosen out of twenty five artists who
were sent questionnaires based on their performance in their post
graduate activities.
Such artists have acquired great technical experience in the art of
which they currently practice. The themes, styles and messages of
their works are some times socio-cultural, Scio-economical or sociopolitical.
Despite the various efforts by such artists the art scene over the
years, there is still inadequate literature to show these efforts.
Therefore most of these artists remain unknown in their professional
fields either as sculptors or painters.
– 7 –
The only available literatures on these artists are from a few exhibition
catalogues, art journals and thesis; which was used for the literature
Chapter three of the thesis deals with the methods used to collect
data, field work were under taking. After which a combination of
descriptive and historical methods were used, to write the thesis.
Questionnaires were sent to the selected artists of whom oral
interviews were held and photographs taken as part of the method to
document some visible forms or art works seen. Also several visits
were made to the artist either in their studios, work shops, residence,
homes or gallery to acquire more information.
Chapter four of this study deals with the data analysis and
discussions. Here each artist’s work was presented and explained.
Three works of John. N. Nyamdi was presented and explained, which
were; the local Hunter, the farmer and the reclychining lady. Two of
Mohammed Sani Muazu works were presented and explained, they
are In the grave, and chuwa-chuwa boy. Three of muyideen Adio Jaji’s
works were presented and discribed; they are Kwame Nkurumah,
Ahmadu Bello, sango. The works of malthew Ehizele were; the sledge
harmer, Amariya da Ango, the Queen mother mask and the drummer.
Gushem Philip’s paintings were the savannah landscapes and the
messiah. Tunde Babalola’s sculptures were; the drum beat, African
– 8 –
Rhythm, Ghana must go and the palm wine taper. The gate of hell, the
gossip and Night and Day were works of Ayo Aina. Lamidi Lasisi’s
works are supplication, mother and child the seat. Kenneth Okoli
worked on Zaria metal landscapes were include kore landscape, Zaria
landscape and Layin Zomo. Kevin Damden worked on series of
sculptures called the “Bism” style of whom Chief Olusegun Obasanjo,
the supervised terror are described in the theses. Baba Musa’s
collage works include the portrait of Mallam Muazu Sani, Ahmed
Then Idowu Biola works on metal sheets of which the African lady, the
spider, the palm wine taper and the acrobats art examples.
Some of the findings showed that the works of the artists over these
years (1981-2002) in the manipulation of line, colour, form, space and
content through the borrowing of traditional and unconventional
material has perhaps brought old forms into existence.
The basic recommendation here is that artists should practice art,
produce art and continue to explore new possible directions in their
presentation of contemporary Nigerian art.
– 9 –


Title page i
Declaration ii
Certification iii
Dedication iv
Acknowledgment v
Abstract vi
Table of content ix
List of Figures xii
List of plates
Chapter One
1.0 Introduction 1
1.1 Background of the study 1
1.2 Statement of the problem 6
1.3 Objective of the study 8
1.4 Significance of the study 9
1.5 Justification of the study 10
1.6 Scope and limitation of the study 11
Chapter Two
2.0 Literature Review 12
2.1 Introduction 12
– 10 –
2.2 Contemporary Artists of fine arts department, Ahmadu Bello
University, Zaria (1981-2002) 13
2.3 Exhibitions 22
2.4 The form, content and implication of Zaria Artist’s
expression (1981 – 2002) 28
Chapter three
3.0 Research, design and methodology 38
3.1 Introduction 38
3.2 Method of data collection 38
3.2.1 Source of Data 38
3.3 Research population and sample 40
3.4 Research procedure 41
Chapter four
4.0 Data analysis and Discussion 44
4.1 Introduction 44
4.2 The Zaria Artists 44
4.2.1 Nyamdi, John Napoleon (b. 1960) 44
4.2.2 Mu’auzu, Mohammed Sani (b.1959) 47
4.2.3 Jaji, Muyideen Adio ( b. 1955) 50
4.2.4 Ehizele, Mathew Onosekhale ( b. 1958) 53
4.2.5 Gushem, Obed Philip ( b. 1958) 56
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4.2.6 Babalola , Tunde Olayinka ( b. 1967) 60
4.2.7 Aina, Ayodele ( b. 1969) 63
4.2.8 Lamidi, Lasisi ( b. 1966) 63
4.2.9 Okoli, Kenneth Okey ( b. 1964) 69
4.2.10 Damden , Kelvin Samuel ( b. 1965) 72
4.2.11 Musa Baba Adamu ( b. 1953) 75
4.2.12 Idowu, Biola Tunde ( b. 1978) 78
Chapter five
5. 0 Summary, Findings, conclusion and recommendations 82
5.1 Summary 82
5.2 Findings 84
5.3 Conclusion 86
5.4 Recommendation 88
Plates 91
Appendix I Graduation list from 1981-2002 129
Appendix II Sample of Letter to Respondents 139
Appendix III Sample of Questionnaire 140
Appendix IV Sample of Interview Schedule 143
Notes 145
Bibliography 149


1.0 Introduction
This study introduces the contribution of some selected artists of
Department of Fine Arts Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria from
1981 – 2002. It discusses the historical background of the
Department of Fine Arts Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and its
graduates. The study examines the works of the artists, their
progress through the years, and also gives a fairly
comprehensive survey of their artistic activities over the years.
This research work serves as a preliminary study; however a
document such as this chooses to inform the public on the
development of Zaria artists through simple explanation. It is
hoped that a work such as this will contribute to the knowledge
of the audience about the various contributions of Zaria artists
since 1981.
1.1 Background of the study
The development art in Fine Arts Departments, Ahmadu Bello
University, Zaria has a long history. It was first transferred from
the Ibadan branch of the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and
Technology in 19551. It was the first Department of Fine Art in
– 17 –
There were only three senior members of staff, Mr. & Mrs.
Baker, British National and Clara Ngbodaga a Nigerian who was
an art graduate of London University3. The Fine Art Department
of the Nigerian College of Arts Science and Technology, Zaria
admitted it first batch of diploma students who were seventeen4.
The students were taught painting, sculpture, graphics and
commercial design barely two years after its transfer from
Ibadan. In 1957/58 the department had, through its programmes
gained international acclaim and quickly received affiliation first
with the Slade School of Arts and later the Goldsmiths School of
Arts both of the University of London5. Only six of the students
admitted graduated with Diploma in Fine Arts in June 1959-one
in painting; T. A. Fasuyi, two in sculpture; G.M Eneremadu and
C.C Ihejiahi and three in graphics and commercial design
namely S.O. Fasuyi, J. A. Nkobi, S. I. Wangboje6. In 1960, four
students graduated in painting and four graphics and
commercial design, J. A. Agbabiaka, Y. A Grillo, W. A
Olaosebikan, C. O. Talabi; for Graphic and Commercial Design;
J. A. Adeka, P. O. Erese, J. K. Oyewole, J. N. Thomas. In the
same year, most students took part in the independence
exhibition where their works were for the first time brought to the
notice of the Nigerian public.
– 18 –
In October 1961, the Ahmadu Bello University was established,
taking over the Fine Arts Department from the former Nigerian
College of Art, Science and Technology, Zaria.
From 1959 to date over One Thousand Students have
graduated from the Fine Arts Department Zaria with either a
Certificate, Diploma, Bachelors Degree, Masters of Art Degree
in Art History or Education, Master of Fine Arts Degree (M.F.A)
in Sculpture and Painting or Masters and Doctorate Degree in
Art Education and Art History. Such graduates have been a
source of pride to the institution, with honours for themselves
and their Alma Mater9. Some of the Masterpieces at the National
Gallery of Art Lagos have added to their reputation. Their works
adorn leading museums, galleries, private and public institutions
like hotels, banks, conference halls and churches.
For example, Solomon Irein Wangboje is known severally for his
prints, “the desert journey”, “the Romance of the head load” 1
and 2; Yusuf Grillo is known for his paintings, “the Moslem
women”, “Sultan Bello Mural” and Ten Virgins Stain Glass at N.
D. A Catholic Church. Uche Okeke’s tale drawings include
“Ogadili the terrble warrior”,”match of masquerades”; Bruce
Onobrakpeya’s prints include “Boat Regatta”, Builders at Work,
– 19 –
Emedjo and Ekuoregbe Unity. Demas Nwoko is popularly known
for his sculptures, Adam and Eve, the philosopher and the boy;
Jimoh.B. (Akolo) paintings, which gained great popularity, are
women carrying water pots, the flutist and Dye pit.
Okekechukwu Odita’s Njikoka series are examples of the
statement the artist made on the Nigerian civil war of 1967-69,
he interprets it as unity and strength. In this work attention is
drawn to unity as well as benevolent acts between Igbo, Yoruba,
Hausa and Fulani speaking ethnic groups of Nigeria.
Salihu Suleiman is known for his play sculptures for a park at the
Kongo campus of Ahamdu Bello University Zaria, wall relief for
the Kano fire Brigade and the statue of Barewa for the Barewa
college, Zaria. R.B. Fatuyi’s murals at the Department of
Chemistry and Civil Engineering Department of Ahmadu Bello
University Zaria and murals at the National Eye Centre Kaduna
are acclaimed paintings of the artist. T.A.Fasuyi’s paintings like’’
Meeting of Elders” and the Offering are the artist’s excellent
works. Kolade Osinowo is known widely for his paintings: the
Ritual dance the portrait of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther and
the Ensemble.
– 20 –
I .N. Uzoagba works include northern panorama, the donkey,
man among the Baobab, the Lizard, which are prints, the
worried woman and the worried man. Dele Jegede’s paintings
also include Samaru, Sallah day, Market scene, Masquerades
and the Drummer. Further more, these graduates of Zaria have
been successful in various walks of life as Deputy Vice
Chancellor, Provots, Rectors, Cultural officers, Proprietors of
Galleries, Studio Artists and Teachers. They have made
appreciable contributions in the art sphere of Nigeri. Their
works, both in painting, sculptures and prints attest to this. Some
of them have stirred the course of some artistic innovations in
Nigeria. Their performance in the art has injected life into the
new generation artist.
From 1981- 2002, some artists are identified by what they are
doing, in painting, sculpture, and prints to mirror the Nigerin
society. Jerry Buhari is known today for his floral notes; Jari
Jacob is known for his corn stalk or bullet hole mosaic; Mu’azu
Sani is popular for his splashing, liquidize painting technique,
Jaji Adio is known for his relief sculptures; Matthew Ehizele is
known for his linear metal sculptures; Babalola is known for his
assembles of regain waste from his environment for his
sculptures. Kefas Danjuma is identified with his conceptual
– 21 –
portrait painting; Philip Gushem is popular with his northern
landscape painting; Lasisi Lamidi is also identified by his
experiment in welded sculptures of sawn canvases on welded
metal rods; Kenneth OKoli also is recognised by his metal
landscapes while Kelvin Bism and Baba Musa Adamu work with
The 1980s are full of new forms, techniques and theme by
emerging artists who are very eager in their search to new ways
of expression. Since 1981, there has been an addition to the list
of such emerging artists. However, during the twenty-one years
(1981-2002) a lot has been done without adequate little
document to show for it. An attempt has been made in this study
to enumerate and analyze some of such art.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Over the years there has been an increasing number of trained
artists in Fine Arts Department Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
as a result of the yearly turn out of graduates. And the number
of such graduates may be difficult to count. The condition has
been that as soon as most of these students graduate, nothing
is heard about them as to whether they are practicing the art
they were trained for, as art teachers, art historians or studio
– 22 –
artists. Attributed to this is the economic hardship that engulfed
the country since the beginning of the 1980s to date. The
second is the art gagging which art collectors and gallery owners
did to mortgage art production of the artists in line with what they
want. The third was the depreciation in the practice of art all
over Nigeria. Another is the attitude of the art viewer to the
existing art in the country. Various artists are busy producing art
works, which the art audience is not ready to buy. In line with
this, various artists were not patronized. Some of the galleries
set prices that are too high for the poor artists. Also there is the
problem of where to exhibit. Most venues are not always open
enough to the public to have an opportunity of viewing or buying
art works. The most vibrant patrons are the Goethe Institute and
Italian Cultural Organisation both in Lagos, British Council
(Kaduna) now Abuja and Alliance Francaise Kaduna. The
problem of writing about the works of these artists especially the
Zaria artists of 1981 – 2002 becomes a very difficult task.
Moreover, no comprehensive study on the works of these artists
has been made. One of the questions that comes to mind is, is
it possible to cover these artists of Zaria from 1981 – 2002
considering the wide spread of time and artists, numbering up to
about five hundred? The bits of information contained in books
are not also comprehensive. There have been scattered
– 23 –
biographies of these artists, brief analysis of some of their works
published in books, magazines, and exhibition catalogues;
others are in dissertations, thesis, projects, and project reports,
seminar or conference papers. As the researcher seeks to
investigate further some specific questions will be considered.
How have these Contemporary Artists of 1981 – 2002
contributed to the development of Contemporary Art in Nigeria?
1.3 Objectives of the study
The main objective of this study is to investigate the
contributions of Zaria contemporary artists, (1981-2002) to the
development of Contemporary Art in Nigeria. The specific
objectives are to:
i. Assess the extent at which the artistic expression of Zaria
artists have culminated into contributing to the
development of Contemporary Art in Nigeria
ii. Identify those artists who have distinguished themselves in
contemporary art expressions, through new themes,
styles, and messages.
iii. Foster public awareness of the diverse art style of the
Zaria Art School.
– 24 –
iv. Assess the artistic development of artists, noting their
commentaries on current happenings in their environment.
v. Promote the growth of Contemporary Art in Fine Art
Department Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
1.4 Significance of the study
This research is significant first, for bringing to the limelight
some outstanding works of artists who have carved for
themselves bold relief in the midst of many contemporary artists.
Secondly, the significance of this research stimulates better
appreciation of art works of Zaria contemporary artists. Thirdly it
documents the various contributions made by such artists to the
development of contemporary art in Nigeria. Fourthly it adds to
the existing literature on Contemporary Art in Nigeria.
Furthermore, the findings and recommendations that emerge
from this work should contribute significantly to the development
of the literary and practical aspects of contemporary art in
Nigeria. Finally, the study may stimulate research work into the
various art activities of Contemporary Nigerian Artists.
– 25 –
1.5 Justification of the study
Notable young artists have made their marks on the
Contemporary Nigeria Art scene in a smooth but striking way,
which have not enjoy the appreciable attention as those of the
pioneering artists, like Aina Onabolu, Akintola Lasekan, Julius
Akeredolu, Ben Enwonwu, Erhabor Emokpae and others. The
greatest set back to this is that no scholarly work or
documentation has been made to their credit. Records available
show that Contemporary Zaria artists have suffered
considerable neglect over the years from scholars both within
and outside Nigeria. To this end, since artistic styles are
dynamic and impressions change from time to time, some of the
descriptive foreign terms hitherto applied to some artistic
presentations in the last few decades in Nigeria may no longer
be applicable if we are to keep pace with current artistic
changes. Therefore it will be justifiable to present the art works
of the new generation artists from 1981-2002.
– 26 –
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the study
This study does not seek to tell the whole story of Zaria
Contemporary Artists from 1955. However, the researcher
intends to draw a simple profile choosing selected artists from
1981 – 2002 because art in Zaria over these years have
changed considerably. The researcher will also work in
retrospect bringing to light the artist’s days of development and
how vibrant and innovative he has been over these years. The
researcher however, chose to limit the selection of these artists
to the very best, productive artist as the case may be, at least
one artist and at most three artists from each class; numbering
up to twelve artists who were selected from an initial list of
twenty five top artists.
– 27 –


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