Uche Okeke, the leading contemporary Nigerian artist and one of the founders of the legendary Zaria Art Society, passed away.
Born in April 30, 1933, Uche Okeke, the leading contemporary Nigerian artist and one of the founders of the legendary Zaria Art Society, passed away in his hometown Nimo on January 5, 2016 at the age of 82.
Along with Bruce Onobrakpeya, Demas Nwoko and Yusuf Grillo and others, Okekewas founded the Zaria Art Society, which introduced and developed the “Natural Synthesis” concept on the contemporary Nigerian art scene. The Society, which has become a reference point in the Nigerian art circles, was founded in 1958 while he was still an undergraduate of the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology (now Ahmadu Bello University) Zaria. It was a group of academically trained experimental artists who joined Western mediums — oil paint, pastel, pen and ink — and African content.
A former director of the Institute of African Studies of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Okeke is best remembered for his research into Igbo Uli art tradition. He was credited with reviewing the entire course programme, which introduced new courses, while he was the acting Head of the Department of Fine Arts of the university in the early 70s. He also designed the first course programme of the Institute of Management and Technology’s Fine and Applied Arts Department in 1973. Okeke was also a visiting Professor to the Department of Creative Arts, University of Port Harcourt, Honorary Deputy Director-General (Africa) of International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, among numerous other engagements with many educational and cultural institutions in different parts of the world.