Akinola Lasekan (Nigerian, 1921-1974) Nigerian Soldier

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Lot 1
Akinola Lasekan
(Nigerian, 1921-1974)
Nigerian Soldier

Sold for £ 6,875 (US$ 8,944) inc. premium
Akinola Lasekan (Nigerian, 1921-1974)
Nigerian Soldier
signed and dated 'Akinola Lasekan/ 1959' (lower right)
oil on board
50 x 40cm (19 11/16 x 15 3/4in).

Footnotes

  • Along with Aina Onabolu and Ben Enwonwu, Akinola Lasekan is widely acknowledged as a pioneer of modern Nigerian art. He was born into the Oladetimi family in Owo, Ondo State in 1916. Whilst his talent for the visual arts was evident from an early age, Lasekan received little formal instruction. His training consisted primarily of correspondence courses. Later in his career, he enrolled in the Hammersmith School of Art but dropped out after only two days. The difficulty Lasekan had in accessing art education in Nigeria had a profound impact, encouraging him to establish his own art correspondence course. The school was to be the training ground for a number of the nation's most celebrated artists, including Uche Okeke.

    Lasekan's formative years were coloured by his experience of British colonial rule. Sensitive and astute, he was very aware of the political system's failings. He sympathised with the emerging Nationalist movement and their call for political independence. He began to vent his criticisms in a series of acerbic cartoons published in The West African Pilot newspaper. His illustrations soon earned him the nickname 'Lash'.

    When he came to oil painting later in his career, he approached his subjects with a cartoonist's eye. His market scenes, landscapes and portraits are characterised by their keen observation and attention to detail.

    The present lot depicts a Nigerian soldier. Dated 1959, the painting was executed on the eve of independence. Confronted with the man's thoughtful and humane expression, the viewer cannot but be convinced of his right to self-determination. In emphasizing the soldier's rational powers over his military status, Lasekan evokes our sympathy for the Nationalist cause.

    Biography
    B.M. Kelly and J. Stanley ed., Nigerian Artists: A Who's Who and Bibliography, (London, 1993), pp.270-271.
    O. Offoedu-Okeke, Artists of Nigeria, (Milan, 2012), p.44-46.
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