Obiora Udechukwu

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Obiora Udechukwu (born 1946) is a Nigerian painter and poet.


Born in Onitsha in 1946 to parents from Agulu in Anambra State, Nigeria, he studied for one year at Ahmadu Bello University before transferring to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka as a result of pogroms against the Igbo people in northern Nigeria. During the Nigerian Civil, also known as the Biafran War (1967–1970), Udechukwu worked in the Propaganda Unit, and participated in the artists and writers workshops led by the poet Gabriel Okara and the artist Uche Okeke. At the end of the war, he returned to Nsukka, completing his bachelor's degree in fine arts, with a thesis on Igbo Uli mural art, in 1972. Returned to Nsukka in 1973, he was appointed a Junior Fellow in the Department of Fine where he received his Master of Fine Arts in 1977. He is recognized as a leading member of the Nsukka School, originally led by Uche Okeke who served as head of the art program until 1985. While at Nsukka, Udechukwu became a founding member of the Aka Circle of Exhibiting Artists, which included El Anatsui, Tayo Adenaike, and other artists based in eastern Nigeria. He served on the editorial board of Okike: African Journal of New Writing established in Nsukka by the novelist Chinua Achebe. He was appointed Professor of Painting at Nsukka in 1986. During his tenure, his students included Tayo Adenaike, Olu Oguibe, Chika Okeke-Agulu and Marcia Kure. In 1997, Udechukwu became Dana Professor of Fine Arts at St. Lawrence University, in the United States. He lives in Canton, NY.

Udechukwu frequently incorporates uli into his work, and in the 1970s he introduced nsibidi signs, as well as ink wash techniques of Chinese literati artists.[1] Many of his paintings and prints depict ordinary people; his wartime service also inspired pieces which depicted the great suffering that he saw. From the mid-1970s, he themes ranged from philosophical subjects to socio-political commentary.

Art exhibitions[edit]

Udechukwu has had more than 25 one-person exhibitions in Nigeria, England, Zimbabwe, Germany, and United States.

Public collections[edit]

His art work is in the collections of National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos; National Council of Arts and Culture, Lagos; Centre for Cultural Studies, University of Lagos; Iwalewa-Haus, University of Bayreuth, Germany; Museum fur Volkderkunde, Frankfurt/Main, Germany; Bradford City Museums and Galleries, Bradford, England; Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC; Newark Museum.


  • What the Madman Said, (1990), winner of Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize, 1990.

Further reading[edit]

  • Chika Okeke-Agulu, Obiora Udechukwu: Line, Image, Text (Milan: Skira Editore, 2016)
  • Kristen Windmuller-Luna, “A Nigerian Song literatus: Chinese literati painting concepts from the Song Dynasty in the contemporary art of Obiora Udechukwu,” Rutgers Art Review Vol. 29, 2014
  • Simon Ottenberg, Sources and themes in the art of Obiora Udechukwu, in African Arts, Summer 2002.
  • Chika Okeke-Agulu, “Obiora Udechukwu,” Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art 9 (1998), 46-51.


  • Bio from the National Museum of African Art, Washington D.C, [1]
  • Profile of the poet, Sentinel Poetry
  • Marie-Helene Boisdur de Toffol and others, An Anthology of African Art: The Twentieth Century, Distributed Art Publishers/Editions Revue Noire; English edition (2002), ISBN 1-891024-38-8 - p. 249.


  1. ^ Chika Okeke-Agulu, “Obiora Udechukwu: The Uli Artist from Nigeria,” in Nkiru Nzegwu (ed.), Contemporary Textures: Multidimensionality in Nigerian Art. (Binghamton: International Society for the Study of Africa, Binghamton University, 1999): 269-297