J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere

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Johnson Donatus Aihumekeokhai Ojeikere (1930 – 2 February 2014), known as J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, was a Nigerian photographer known for his work with unique hairstyles found in Nigeria.[1]


Ojeikere was born in 1930 in Ovbiomu-Emai, a rural village in south-western Nigeria. He worked and lived in Ketu, Nigeria. At the age of 20 he pursued photography, which was out of the ordinary for people in Nigeria, especially those in his village. Cameras were not in high demand and were of low priority as they were considered a luxury. However, in 1950 Ojeikere bought a modest Brownie D camera without flash, and had a friend teach him the fundamentals of photography.[2][3]

Ojeikere started out as a darkroom assistant in 1954 at the Ministry of Information in Ibadan. After Nigeria gained its independence in 1960, Ojeikere pursued his first job as a photographer. In 1961 he became a studio photographer, under Steve Rhodes, for Television House Ibadan. From 1963 to 1975 Ojeikere worked in publicity at West Africa Publicity in Lagos. In 1967 he joined the Nigerian Arts Council. In 1968 he began one of his largest projects as he documented Nigerian hairstyles. This was a hallmark of Ojeikere's work and he printed approximately a thousand pictures of different African women's hair.[2]

A large selection of Ojeikere's work was included in the arsenale section of the 55th Venice Biennale d'arte, "Il Palazzo Enciclopedia" curated by Massimiliano Gioni in 2013.[4]

Ojeikere died on 2 February 2014, at the age of 83. He is the subject of a documentary film by Tam Fiofori entitled J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere: Master Photographer.[5][6]


  • J.D.'Okhai Ojeikere: Photographs. Scalo, 2000. Edited by Andre Magnin. ISBN 978-3908247302.


Solo exhibitions[edit]

Group exhibitions[edit]

  • 2000: Africa: Past-Present, Fifty-One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp[15]
  • 2001: Face Off, Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels[16]
  • 2002: Collection in Context – Recent Photography Acquisitions, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, USA[17]
  • 2003: Highlights from the collection of Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris: William Eggleston, Beat Streuli, Bill Viola, Vik Muniz, J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Pierrick sorin, Bildmuseet Umea Universitett, Umea, Sweden
  • 2004: Joy of Life – two photographers from Africa: Seydou Keita, J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan[18]
  • 2004: Nous Remontons de la "Calle" Toutes les Photographies!, Galerie du Jour Agnés B., Paris, France
  • 2004: La collection d'art contemporain d'Agnès b. Je m'installe aux Abattoirs, Les Abattoirs – Frac Midi-Pyrénées, Toulouse, France[19]
  • 2005: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection, MFAH Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, TX, USA[20]
  • 2006: 100% Africa, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain[21]
  • 2006: About Africa Part One: Seydou Keita, Malick Sidbé, Jean-Dominque Burton, Jurgen Schadeberg, J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, Fifty-One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp, Belgium.[22]
  • 2006: Some Tribes, Christophe Guye Galerie, Zurich, Switzerland[23]
  • 2008: Head Room, Mocca – Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto, ON
  • 2009: Chance Encounters, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai[24]
  • 2009: 70s. Photography and Everyday Life, Teatro Fernan Gomez, PHotoEspaña, Madrid, Spain (catalogue ISBN 8492498773)
  • 2009: 70s. Photography and Everyday Life, Museo D’Arte Provincia di Nuoro, Nuoro, Italy (catalogue ISBN 8492498773)
  • 2009: J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere and Malick Sidibe: Hairdos and Parties- African Typologies, L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, New York, USA
  • 2010: 70s. Photography and Everyday Life, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, Seville, Spain (catalogue ISBN 8492498773)
  • 2010: 70s. Photography and Everyday Life, Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam, Netherlands (catalogue ISBN 8492498773)
  • 2010: A Midsummer Gallery Soirée, Hagedorn Foundation Gallery, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 2010: AIPAD – The Photography Show, L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, Park Avenue Armory, New York, USA[25]
  • 2010: National Black Arts Festival, Atlanta, GA, USA
  • 2011: Becoming: Photographs from the Wedge Collection, Tate Modern, London, England
  • 2012: Africa/Africa, Abbaya St. André, Centre d'art contemporain de Meymac, Meymac, France[26]
  • 2013: Voyage Retour – Federal Government Press, Broad Street, Lagos, Lagos Island, Nigeria[27]
  • 2013: The Encyclopedic Palace curated by Massimiliano Gioni, The Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy[28]
  • 2014: Back to Front, Mariane Ibrahim Gallery, Seattle, USA[29]
  • 2014: Ici l'Afrique, Château de Penthes, Pregny-Chambésy, France[30]
  • 2015: Making Africa - A Continent of Contemporary Design, Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany[31]
  • 2016: Regarding Africa: Contemporary Art and Afro-Futurism, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel[32]


  1. ^ "JD 'Okhai Ojeikere: Nigeria's top photographer dies". BBC News Online. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b Pigozzi, Jean. "J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere Biography". Retrieved 5 May 2013.
  3. ^ Ojeikere, J.D. Okhai (2000). J.D. Okhai Ojeikere. Scalo. p. 56.
  4. ^ Evelyne Politanoff, "Lavish Hairstyles by J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere", The Huffington Post Arts & Culture, 18 June 2013.
  5. ^ Lauren Said-Moorhouse, "'A love letter to Nigeria': The master photographer who captured nation's life", African Voices, CNN, 13 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Film Screening: J.D Ojeikere, The Master Photographer", African Artists' Foundation, March 2016.
  7. ^ Fondation Cartier
  8. ^ "J. D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, Hairstyles, 1968-1999", MAMCO (21 February – 29 April 2001).
  9. ^ Blaffer Art Museum
  10. ^ L. Parker Stephenson Photographs
  11. ^ "JD 'Okhai Ojeikere: Sartorial Moments and the Nearness of Yesterday. 1st October – 30th November 2010", CCA Lagos.
  12. ^ "JD 'Okhai Ojeikere: Moments of Beauty. 15th April – 27th November 2011".CCA Lagos.
  13. ^ "Moments of Beauty", Kiasma Magazine, No. 48, Vol. 14.
  14. ^ "J.D. Okhai Ojeikere: Hairstyles and Headdresses", Hayward Touring, Southbank Centre – New Art Exchange, Nottingham (27 September 2014 – 11 January 2015).
  15. ^ Gallery 51
  16. ^ Aeroplastics Previous
  17. ^ Undo.net
  18. ^ Hara Museum
  19. ^ "La collection d'art contemporain d'Agnès b. Je m'installe aux Abattoirs", Les Abattoirs (9 April–13 June 2004).
  20. ^ "African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection", MFAH Archives.
  21. ^ "100% AFRICA", Guggenheim Bilbao (12 October 2006–February 2007).
  22. ^ "About Africa : PART ONE. Malick Sidibe, Seydou Keita, J.D.Ojeikere, Jean Dominique Burton, Jurgen Schadeberg", Gallery 51.
  23. ^ "Some Tribes", Christophe Guye Galerie (3 July 2006 – 31 August 2006).
  24. ^ Sakshi Gallery
  25. ^ "AIPAD – The Photography Show", L. Parker Stephenson Photographs (17–21 March 2010).
  26. ^ "Africa", Centre d'art contemporain de Meymac (18 March–17 June 2012).
  27. ^ Museum Folkwang
  28. ^ La Biennale di Venezia
  29. ^ "Back to Front, J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere and Malick Sidibe", Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.
  30. ^ "Ici l'Afrique", Château de Penthes (8 May–6 July 2014).
  31. ^ "Making Africa - A Continent of Contemporary Design", Vitra Design Museum.
  32. ^ "Regarding Africa: Contemporary Art and Afro-Futurism", Tel Aviv Museum of Art.