Tunde Odunlade is a print and textile artist who has exhibited, taught, lectured, studied and traveled extensively within Nigeria and throughout Africa, North America, and Europe. In addition, he has performed as an actor with the Nigerian National Troop and various other theatrical organizations, and has recorded several CDs that integrate poetry and music. He lives in Ibadan, in the southwestern part of Nigeria.
His art has been displayed in dozens of one-man and group shows. His work is in the collections of institutions including the Smithsonian Museum of African Art and the World Bank Headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the MacArthur Foundation Collection in Chicago, and the State House in Lagos, Nigeria. His work is also in the collections of many private individuals in the North America, Europe, and Nigeria.
In the early 1970’s Tunde studied with Yinka Adeyemi, a member of the Oshogbo school of art that was largely responsible for the explosion of creative contemporary art emanating from Nigeria, and at the Oguntimehin Art Workshop under the auspices of Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife.
Tunde’s art uses both contemporary and traditional techniques. For example, he developed a unique batik appliqué process that builds on traditional textile print techniques to create wall hangings with unusual depth and texture. His favored technique for making prints is linocuts. Recently, he developed a new style he calls “floatograph” that combines the techniques of marbleizing, calligraphy, and batik to create organic abstractions.
His images draw on the rich history of Yoruba art and culture, modern-day life in Nigeria, and his passion for music. He does not create “art for art’s sake.” Rather, he is committed to “art with a purpose:” the use of art to reach across cultural differences, raise awareness among his own people and the international community about both the potential and the challenges facing Nigeria.
Tunde has always been deeply committed to expanding opportunities for other artists. He co-founded the Toki Memorial Arts Centre in Ibadan, where he served as artistic director for 14 years. This center became a major force in discovering and nurturing artists who have gone on to successful international careers. He founded the International Campaign for Better Arts and Cultural Awareness (ICBACA), a non-profit organization dedicated to using art to bridge gaps between cultures – both at home in Nigeria and abroad. He founded its sister organization, a for-profit gallery and artist representation services, the International Center for Better Arts and Cultural Arcade (ICBACA Ltd) and the Tunde Odunlade Artist Cooperative Gallery in Ibadan.
In addition, Tunde has devoted considerable energy toward improving conditions in Nigeria. In 1999 he founded the Nigerian Artists for a Nation Anew (NAFANA), whose mission is to encourage Nigerian artists to use their talents to help their country overcome the corruption and poverty that has plagued it for decades. Through NAFANA Tunde curated a major exhibition entitled “Artists and Nation-Building: Nigeria at 39.” In 2001 he was commissioned by the Nigerian Debt Management Office (DMO) to curate a show as part of their International Conference on Sustainable Debt and Development Strategy. For the exhibition, “Together, We Rebuild a Nation,” artists were asked to depict both their dreams for their country and the ways in which oppressive external debt is hampering their realization. Tunde also serves as an executive with the Association of Nigerians Against Corruption (ANAC).
Tunde Odunlade’s life is well described by his motto: “He who does not attempt the absurd can never achieve the impossible.”