Chief Z.O. Oloruntoba Passes On

Chief Z.O. Oloruntoba Passes On

Chief Zacheus Olowonubi Oloruntoba (b.1919) passed away in Marietta, Georgia, on Thursday, March 13. According to his son, Patrick, and daughter, Abiola, the cause of death was a stroke. Oloruntoba was born in Ogidi, Nigeria, October 1, 1919 and began painting when he was 15 years old to explain the powerful, lucid dreams he had since age 12. A spiritual mentor and healer in his village, he spent most of his life focusing on becoming a herbal doctor and credited his mother with teaching him how to use his magical gift of dreams, and his grandmother for showing him how to paint. It was not until 1948 that Oloruntoba began working with hand-dyed cords and later became well renowned for his colorful herbal-dyed, cotton-cord tapestries depicting African life and his brilliantly coloured silks and magical rice-paper works inspired by Yoruba culture. According to the artist, “The dyes are not simply colours, they are medicines that endow the paintings with different therapeutic powers, depending on the figures involved and the colours used.”

Oloruntoba exhibited extensively around the world including Antwerp, Brussels, Frankfurt, Geneva, Paris as well as Nigeria and the United States. He also participated in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, Lagos, The Commonwealth Institute, London and held numerous one-man shows in London and New York. He was a Visiting Lecturer at the Institute of Traditional African Studies, University of Ibadan and at Harvard University, United States. His work has been collected by Queen Elizabeth II, David Rockefeller, Mohammed Ali and Ornette Coleman.


Oliver Enwonwu is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Omenka magazine, Director, Omenka Gallery and Chief Executive, Revilo. He holds a first degree in Biochemistry, advanced diploma in Exploration Geophysics (distinction), Post Graduate Diplomas in Applied Geophysics and Visual Art (distinction) and a Masters in Art History, all from the University of Lagos. He is the founder, Executive Director, and trustee of The Ben Enwonwu Foundation. He also sits on the board of several organizations including the National Gallery of Art, Nigeria and the Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria. Enwonwu is also president of both the Society of Nigerian Artists and the Alliance of Nigerian Art Galleries.

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