Twins Seven Seven

About the Artist

Prince Twins Seven-Seven, 2003 (photo courtesy of the artist).
Prince Twins Seven-Seven, 2003 (photo courtesy of the artist).
Nike Olenike and Twins Seven-Seven at Haystack Mountain Crafts Center, Deer Isle, Maine, 1974 (courtesy of Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution).
Nike Olenike and Twins Seven-Seven at Haystack Mountain Crafts Center, Deer Isle, Maine, 1974 (courtesy of Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution).
Twins Seven-Seven, with his band, the Golden Cabretas, in 1971, as reproduced in the CD, Nigeria Special: Volume 2 - Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-6, Sound Way Records, 2010 (photo courtesy of the publisher).
Twins Seven-Seven, with his band, the Golden Cabretas, in 1971, as reproduced in the CD, Nigeria Special: Volume 2 - Modern Highlife, Afro Sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-6, Sound Way Records, 2010 (photo courtesy of the publisher).
Twins Seven-Seven in 1971. (Photo source unknown)
Twins Seven-Seven in 1971. (Photo source unknown)
Twins Seven-Seven at Indigo Arts Gallery November 5, 2004 (Photograph © Anthony Hart Fisher 2004).
Twins Seven-Seven at Indigo Arts Gallery November 5, 2004 (Photograph © Anthony Hart Fisher 2004).

Prince Twins Seven-Seven was born Taiwo Olaniyi Oyewale-Toyeje Oyelale Osuntoki in 1944 in Ijara, Nigeria. The sole survivor of seven successive sets of twins, he renamed himself Ibeji Meje-Meje, or "Twins Seven-Seven". As a member of a royal lineage of the Yoruba people he later took the title of prince. Seven-Seven was one of the original artists of the famed Oshogbo School (named for the city of that name), which arose in the newly independent Nigeria of the early 1960's.

He had worked as an itinerant singer and dancer before he walked into one of the Mbari Mbayo art workshops led by expatriates and Georgina and Ulli Beier in Oshogbo in 1964. He took to painting immediately, and became one of the stars of the Oshogbo workshops. While a modernist in style, he took as his primary subject the rich religious and historical tradition of his Yoruba people.

Twins had a dramatic flair, which served him well. Seven-Seven rapidly achieved international fame, with major exhibitions in Europe, Japan and Australia as well as the United States. This included exhibitions at the Pompidou Center and the Musée de L'Homme in Paris, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Museum of African Art in Washington, the Houston Contemporary Art Museum, the Fowler Museum at UCLA in Los Angeles, the Field Museum in Chicago and the National Museum of Art in Lagos, Nigeria. His work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution and the Philadelphia Museum of Art as well as many private collections.As described in a citation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2005:

He is a prominent artist as well as a bandleader, teacher, dancer, actor and spokesman for Yoruba culture. His artistic works reflect a personal cosmology, drawn from Yoruba myths and stories. Twins' highly individual technique is the physical manifestation of a universe of potent forces in a state of constant treansformation. The images themselves are wonderfully complex; forms collide with colors to reveal a mythopoetic world that demonstrates his unique imaginative power.

Twins Seven-Seven's autobiography, A Dreaming Life, edited by Ulli Beier, was published in 1999 by Bayreuth African Studies, Bayreuth, Germany.

We were fortunate that Twins Seven-Seven chose to live in the Philadelphia area for much of the last fifteen years of his life. One of Twins Seven-Seven’s paintings was featured in the Philadelphia Musem of Art show, African Art, African Voices, and the museum since added a major piece to its permanent collection. His work was also featured in our African Visions show. He and his band played live at our November 5, 2004 opening.

In May, 2005, we received the news that UNESCO had named Twins Seven-Seven its Artist for Peace for 2005. The award was presented by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura at a ceremony in Paris on May 25th, 2005. The ceremony was attended by His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chairperson of the African Union. 2004 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Wangari Maathai also received a UNESCO award at the ceremony.

 

Region:
The Hundred Faces of Oshun: River Goddess Oshun
SKU: Twin-69

1973
Oil, ink and shellac on plywood. Original black wood frame by artist.
(43" h x 25 1/2"w)
Puchased directly from the artist while the owner lived in Lagos, Nigeria from 1973 to 1975.

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Returned to Consignor
The Invisible Objects in Haystack Forest
SKU: T77-1405

1974
Deep-cut Etching with dark green ink, with watercolor/oil additions. Title, signature, date and edition number set on surrounding green paper.  #3/100.  Created at workshop at Haystack Mountain Crafts Center, Deer Isle, Maine, July 14 - 29, 1974. Purchased directly from the artist by current owner.
(Print size 13 3/4" x 10 3/4" on 23 1/2" h. x 20" w. matte).

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Returned to Consignor
Twins Seven-Seven
SKU: Twin-71

1970
Paint, ink and mixed media on plywood. Framed.
(24" h x 48"w, 608mm h. x 1213mm w.)
Commissioned directly from the artist in 1969 while the owner lived in Nigeria.
Inscription:"The Birds Muscian by Twins Seven-Seven Box 68 Oshogbo 26/6/70"

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Twins Seven-Seven
SKU: Twin-61

1960's
Etching, # 4/30
(15" h x 19 5/8"w)

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Twins Seven-Seven
SKU: Twin-66

c.2007
Oil, acrylic, ink and pastel on plywood
(24" h x 12 1/4"w) Framed.
Provenance:  Private collection, purchased directly from the artist.

 

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Arriving in the World of an "Ifa" Goddess of Traditional Priest & the Ifa Beads (Ifa Oracle Beads)
SKU: T77-1403

c.2007
Oil, acrylic, ink and pastel on plywood
(36" h x 12"w).
Provenance:  Private collection, purchased directly from the artist.

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The Flying Snake Dog Flying Over the Red Skulls
SKU: T77-1501

Oshogbo, Nigeria, March 1968
Oil, acrylic, pastel, ink  on paper on plywood
(28 3/4" h, x 44 3/4"w.)

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The Palmwine Tapper
SKU: T77-1602

c.2009
"Sculpture Painting" - Oil, acrylic, ink and pastel on plywood.
(36" h x 12"w)
Provenance:  Private collection, purchased directly from the artist.

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The Palm Wine Tapper
SKU: T77-1106

Twins Seven-Seven (1944 - 2011), Oshogbo, Nigeria
c.1978
Ink, pastel and oli on cloth
(50 1/2" h x 30 1/2"w)

At the entry to the lane that leads to Prince's compound in Osogbo, a palm-wine tapper sits on a bicycle, welded to Prince's design out of scrap metal. In Amos Tutuola's "Palm-Wine Drinkard", the drinard hunts for his dead tapster in the domain of the dead.... 

"This is when I was working on the book of Amos Tutuola, like Palm-Wine Drinker, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, and something like that."

"I made a poem about whoever want me to die earlier will be killed by a palm-wine tapper bicycle, because palm-wine tapper bicycle have no insurance. It was a song from, like, nineteen seventy-four."

from Prince Twins Seven-SevenHis Art, His Life in Nigeria, His Exile in America, by Henry Glassie

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The Singing Birds
SKU: T77-0706

Twins Seven-Seven (1944-), Oshogbo, Nigeria
2006
Oil, acrylic, ink on canvas
(33 1/2" h x 11 1/4"w)

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Blessed Fisherman Family and Golden Fish
SKU: T77-0701

Twins Seven-Seven (1944- 2011), Oshogbo, Nigeria
2006
Oil, acrylic and pastel on canvas
(27 1/2" h x 26"w)

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He and She - Baby in Blue
SKU: T77-1003

Twins Seven-Seven (1944- 2011), Oshogbo, Nigeria
2010
Acrylic, ink on canvas
(31" h. x 15 3/4"w.)

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Great Hunter, Founder of Oshogbo
SKU: T77-1101

Twins Seven-Seven (1944- 2011), Oshogbo, Nigeria
2011
Oil, acrylic, ink and pastel on plywood
(47" h, x 27"w.)

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Palmwine Tapper and Family
SKU: T77-0905

Twins Seven-Seven (1944 - 2011), Oshogbo, Nigeria
2007
Oil, acrylic, ink and pastel on plywood
(24" h x 12 1/4"w)

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Ocean Blessed Family
SKU: T77-1004

Twins Seven-Seven (1944- 2011), Oshogbo, Nigeria
2009
Acrylic, ink on canvas
(31" h. x 15 3/4"w.)  Framed

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