An evening of tribute organized by the Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria for the Late Nigerian artist Ben Osaghae took place at the National Museum in Lagos on the 30th of March 2017. The programme was preceded by the reconnection of old relationships and the invention of new ones as professional artists of diverse forms and art patrons converged to narrate their various encounter with the late artist.

As a founding member of the guild and a member of the Society of Nigerian artists, the programme was held to honour the late artist, appreciate his artistic life and to situate his involvement in the Nigerian art scene. The evening also affirmed the association’s aim of celebrating Nigerian artists.

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Mrs Edewor paying tribute to Ben Osaghae. Photo credit: Ayo Akinwande

Creating an ambience of reflection was the slideshow of Ben’s works of art that were enveloped with metaphorical and idiomatic expressions. It took the audience to the core of his art and positioned the works as an experience rather than objects. 

The tribute commenced with the arrival of the Obi of Onitsha who occupied the high seat alongside Mrs Edewor, Jess Castellote, Kunle Filani and Chief Ede Dafinone.   

Nigerian art critic, Jess Castellote reiterates why he documented the artistic tenacity of Ben Osaghae. “He was always looking for happenings in the society and always have something to say. He was a natural artist who liberated himself on the canvas irrespective of who buys the work. He worked from memory with sketches that are expressive and wonderful. His figures are generally emotional.”

Mrs Edewor, a long time collector of Osaghae’s works described him as a brilliant mind, an intellectual and a social commentator. With passion, she narrated how she was arrested by the rich and vibrant colours of Ben’s paintings on her first encounter with his works. “Ben used colours in such an unusual way and expressed himself in colours,” she said.   

Ben Osaghae was invited to address the audience through a documentary that was shown by a friend of the late artist, Dapo Adeniyi. It created a feeling of nostalgia as the artist’s room was shown with his paintings. His personality and life permeated the space closing the distance of time between the documentary and the audience. 

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L-R: Obi of Onitsha – Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Chief Ede Dafinone, Jess Castellote and Mrs Edewor. Photo credit: Ayo Akinwande

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Dapo Adeniyi paying tribute to Ben Osaghae. Photo credit: Matthew Oyedele

It is arguably a known fact that Ben Osaghae has left a significant landmark that is artistically visible, remarkable and impactful in the Nigerian Contemporary art scene. His works have also gained a new kind of impressiveness in diverse homes and establishments that they occupy not only because of the content but because of their new market value.


Read Jess Castelotte tribute

Ben Osaghae (1962-2017)

Top featured image: Ben Osaghae, 2015  | Photo credit: Diseye Tantua