Tunde Odunlade is a well-known Nigerian artist, musician, and actor known for his Batik art tapestries and patterns. His specialties include textile arts and floatography (a generic term he gave his art). He was the first Nigerian to have his work displayed in a foreign country. He is a member of the Visual Artists Network of the United States of America (VAN) and regularly attends the National Conference of Artists in New York. He was a member of the Nigeria Cultural Troupe at Festac.
Early Life and Education
Babatunde Samuel Odunlade was born and raised in Iremo, Ile-ife, on November 26, 1954. In early 1970, he met Yinka Adeyemi, a member of the Osogbo School of Arts, and began his career as a second-generation artist in the school of arts. In 1973, he also attended the Oguntimehin Art Workshop at the University of Ife.
Tunde applies ancient techniques to textiles using a one-of-a-kind batik appliqué technique. He also created the floatograph style, in which he depicts Yoruba history, culture, and life in Nigeria using batiks, linocuts, and woodcut prints. He was an artist-in-residence at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, between 1986 and 1989.
His images are inspired by Yoruba art and tradition, contemporary Nigerian life, and his love of music. He doesn’t make “art for the sake of art.” Rather, he is dedicated to “art with a purpose,” which entails using art to bridge cultural divides and create awareness among his own people and the world community about both Nigeria’s potential and issues.
Tunde has always been dedicated in providing additional possibilities for other musicians. He co-founded the Toki Memorial Arts Centre in Ibadan and served as its creative director for 14 years. This center rose to prominence as a key player in the identification and development of artists who went on to have successful international careers. He founded the International Campaign for Better Arts and Cultural Awareness (ICBACA), a non-profit dedicated to bridging cultural gaps in Nigeria and around the world via the use of art. In Ibadan, he established the International Centre for Better Arts and Cultural Arcade (ICBACA Ltd.) and the Tunde Odunlade Artist Cooperative Gallery, both of which provide for-profit galleries and artist representation services.
Tunde has also devoted a significant amount of time striving to better Nigeria’s predicament. In 1999, he founded the Nigerian Artists for a Nation Anew (NAFANA) organization to encourage Nigerian artists to use their talents to help their country overcome decades of corruption and poverty. Tunde coordinated a large exhibition titled “Artists and Nation-Building: Nigeria at 39” for NAFANA. In 2001, he was commissioned by the Nigerian Debt Management Office (DMO) to develop an exhibition for their International Conference on Sustainable Debt and Development Strategy. We are rebuilding a nation together. “Artists were challenged to depict both their country’s ambitions and how onerous external debt is inhibiting their realization.” He also serves as an executive with the Association of Nigerians Against Corruption (ANAC).
In December 2020, he established the Tunde Odunlade Arts and Culture Connexions in Ibadan, Oyo state. He stated that the new gallery, Tunde Odunlade Arts and Culture Connexions (Pan Artists’Market), will boost tourism not only in Ibadan, but throughout Nigeria. “It will contribute to the country’s economic progress and will serve as a public relations tool, as a people’s civility is best demonstrated through their arts and humanistic activities both historically and globally, particularly in the age of social media connections.”
Prof. Tunde Odunlade’s personal life is unknown, but his world revolves around African art and culture, particularly at his art gallery in Ibadan. He is known to associate with notable Yoruba figures such as Toyin Falola, Yemi Farounbi, Tunde Kelani, and Alao Adedayo, among others.
His paintings have been shown both in Nigeria and abroad, including:
- Federal Government College, Sokoto, 1978, 1980, 1981.
- Bakolori Dam Project, Talata, Mafara, Sokoto, 1978.
- Education Centre, Ministry of Education, Maiduguri, 1981–1982.
- 27 January – 20 March 1999 “New Colours from Old Worlds: Contemporary Art from West Africa,” October Gallery, London
- 24 March – 8 May 1999. “Beauty Ravishes Me All Over Wherever I Find It.” October Gallery, London
- Feb – April 2010. “Dreaming Between Worlds.” Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta, GA.
- October 2011. “Art as a Tool for Nation Building.” Nigerian High Commission, Ottawa, Canada
- July – August 2011. “New York Summer Show 2011”. Corrine Jennings Gallery, New York, NY
- December 2012. Lagos Art Expo. National Museum, Lagos, Nigeria.
- February to April 2012. City Lights Gallery, Bridgeport, Connecticut.
- December–January. African American Art and Cultural Centre, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- Lagos Art Expo. National Museum, Lagos, Nigeria.
- Rotunda Art Gallery, Office of the Governor of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM
- 2012 February–March The City of Perth, Amboy Art and Cultural Centre. Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The Mayor presented the City Proclamation Certificate.
- 2013 October–November. Hudson Gallery, Sylvania, Ohio. Sculptured Relief Batik, Batik, Wood & Linocut Prints, and Floatograph. group show.
- November 1, 2013, A Commissioned Exhibition. “65th Anniversary of the University of Ibadan Convocation.” Trenchard Hall, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.
- 2014 February City Lights Gallery, Bridgeport, Connecticut. group show.
- In January 2014, in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and the Bowie State University Department of Fine and Performing Arts. Bowie, Maryland
Tunde Odunlade’s work has been auctioned several times, with realized prices ranging from $250 to $3,526 USD depending on the size and medium of the piece. The sale of Paminku (Kill me and let me die), sold at Bonhams New Bond Street in 2009, set a new auction record for this artist at 3,526 USD.
Awards and Nominations
He has received various prizes and accolades, including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Award, Carnegie Foundation, Ford Foundations, Rockefeller Foundations, MacArthur Foundation, New York University, NYC, and a number of other national, state, and county endowments for the arts.
As a result, there can be no doubt that Tunde Odunlade, like the great names before him, has contributed significantly to the creation and preservation of Nigeria’s contemporary art culture.
Prof. Tunde Odunlade is known to be a traditional man who does not live a flamboyant lifestyle. The estimate of his net worth is unknown to the public.