World renowned artist, Ben Enwonwu is one of those who have joined the Pablo Picassos and Michelangelos of this world as premier artists. His paintings now sell for millions (try to-wisely-invest in arts if you can maintain it securely).
Mazi Ben Enwonwu, your good works have indeed outlived you!
An Igbo professor, Mazi Chika Okeke-Agulu has spoken out strongly against the planned sale of some Igbo alusi in Paris. Auction house Christies has announced plans to auction the sacred statues.
But Okeke-Agulu, a professor of African Art History at Prinston University, USA, is having none of that. In an interview reported by The Guardian, he says:
“The original acquisition was rooted in violence. These objects are from my hometown, removed from places around eastern Nigeria during the [Nigeria-Biafra] War.
“What we’re seeing now is the continuing benefit from that original act of violence, which is an extension of that violence.”
The monetary value of the sculptures is estimated at between €250,000 and €350,0000 (£227,000-£317,000). That is NGN 170m. They were acquired under mysterious circumstances by French art collector Jacques Kerchache.
Many alusi sculptures were systematically stolen during the war from Mbari houses – shrines ardoned with symbolic murals that house sculptures of Igbo deities.
Anyone who illegally acquired Igbo and other African artworks should please, please and please return them. The Igbo and other African Peoples should also play their part by promoting justice, peace, and fairplay.
If there is unity, people with anti-African plans will find it difficult to manipulate Africans.
A few recent discoveries of long-lost works by Africa’s greatest contemporary artist, Ben Enwonwu, are leading to a reexamination of his legacy.
How is it that the works of a man who in 1949 would be named Africa’s greatest contemporary artist by Time magazine, would decades later be gathering dust, long-forgotten in an apartment in London or in a family house in Texas?