Ben Enwonwu MBE, Road to Sokoto, 1974, 52 x 70 cm / 20 x 28 in, Oil on board, Courtesy TAFETA
Ben Enwonwu MBE, Road to Sokoto, 1974, 52 x 70 cm / 20 x 28 in, Oil on board, Courtesy TAFETA 

Ben Enwonwu MBE remains one of the most important pioneers of modern African arts, and a key figure in twentieth century arts. Over the course of his career, Enwonwu worked in recurring themes heavily influenced by a pan-African ideology. Working both as a sculptor and as a painter, Enwonwu later studied anthropology at University College, London, and, not long after, was made a Fellow at the Royal Anthropological Institute. In 1955 he was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire), and in 1956 received a commission to sculpt a portrait statue of Queen Elizabeth II, which was completed in 1957. Series such as Africa Dances, Negritude, Ogolo, and a nationwide tour of his landscape paintings, contributed to numerous exhibitions including Zwemmer Gallery, London (1937); Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris (1946); Galerie Apollinaire, London (1950); Howard University, Washington DC (1950); Mall Galleries, London (1985); and the National Museum, Lagos (1991).