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Emmanuel Taiwo Jegede


Emmanuel Taiwo Jegede is a sculptor, painter and poet. Born in Nigeria in 1943, he studied in Lagos, before continuing his education at Hammersmith School of Art in London. He draws inspiration from the aesthetic and traditions of Yoruba art, yet his work in paint, bronze and wood is equally informed by European modernism. His work was also presented on the greetings cards sold by Bogle-L’Ouverture in the 1970s.


He was one of the many black artists and photographers who exhibited at the Second World Festival and Black Arts and African Culture (Festac ’77) in Lagos, Nigeria (1977), alongside Aubrey Williams, Winston Branch, Ronald Moody and Uzo Egonu. In the 1970s Jegede was artist-in-residence at the Keskidee Centre, the UK’s first black arts community centre, and was a member of the Rainbow Art Group that grew out of this facility. This grouping included artists Errol Lloyd and Uzo Egonu and created a formalised artistic space to advocate, exhibit and create opportunities for black artists.


The Unrealised Dream (1994) builds up rich textured landscape of forms, layered one upon the other in contrasting vibrant colours. Bodiless hands reach up as if in prayer, mask-like faces stare unseeingly in different directions, and eyes without faces gaze into the void. This watercolour is rich with spirituality and allegory; the mass of anthropomorphic forms seems to explore the condition of humanity and its collective consciousness, the eternal search for answers. By using Yoruba symbols and motifs in this painting, Jegede reframes universal philosophical ideals, explored over centuries by a myriad of European artists, through a West African lens.

Jegede has been exhibited in shows in Nigeria, Canada, Germany, Ireland and France. His work was included in Transforming the Crown: African, Asian and Caribbean Artists in Britain 1966–1996, shown at the Caribbean Cultural Centre in New York City (1997–98), in which included numerous other artists included in No Colour Bar were also participants. Taiwo Jegede’s work is featured at the Peterborough Sculpture Park and a joint exhibition of his paintings and poetry was exhibited at Swiss Cottage Library, London (2005).  His work is held in public collections in Nigeria, Trinidad, the UK and Jamaica.


Emmanuel Taiwo Jegede (b. 1943)
The Unrealised Dream, 1994
Jegede is a painter, printmaker, sculptor and poet. Inspired by Yoruba art and beliefs, his work is characterised by a unique marriage of figurative modernism with Yoruba imagery. In 2011 he received a Special Recognition Award from the USA House of Representatives for contributions to African culture.

Watercolour on paper  

On loan from Makeda Coaston

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