Asiru Olatunde (1919-1992)

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Asiru Olatunde

Asiru Olatunde

Oshogbu - 1919-1992

In 2005 the gallery held a survey exhibition of Asiru Olatunde entitled Chasing Dreams. Examples of the metal panels by Asiru Olatunde exhibited by the gallery in previous years are shown here. If you are interested in buying or selling work by Olatunde, please contact the gallery.
Asiru Olatunde trained as a blacksmith before failing health forced him to look for other work. In the early 1960's he began making small pieces of jewelery out of beaten copper sheets and sold them with the help of the writer Ullie Beier who was teaching at the local university. Encouraged by Beier and the Austrian artist Suzanne Wenger, Olatunde began to work on larger panels of copper and later, aluminium. At this time, Oshogbu had a flourishing scene of artists and writers many of whom were greatly influenced by the Yoruba religion and customs (which had lost some of its prominence after centuries of both Christian and Muslim missions).

Having learnt the ceremonial drums as a boy, Olatunde began to use them once more before embarking on each new panel. He would draw the subject on the reverse of the panel and then beat out the scenes with a small metal punch, a technique known as repousse metalwork. They took their inspiration not only from Yoruba stories and customs, but also Biblical stories that were combined with localfolklore, (for instance, the Garden of Eden could be shown at the local sacred groves and surrounded by the river deity).

Olatunde's work became better known in Nigeria and America, with an exhibition at the IMF headquarters in Washington. One work is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institute. Asiru Olatunde died in 1992.


<i>Offering to the River Goddess Oshun</i> Repoussé aluminium panel 48 x 30 ins, (121.92 x 76.20 cms)
<i>Hunters in the Forest</i> Repoussé aluminium panel 13½ x 32½ ins, (34.29 x 82.55 cms)