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FOREWORD 
THE BEST OF IFE AT 30:BEYOND ONAISM.
The Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU), Ile Ife, Nigeria has a motto that promotes indigenous knowledge. 
“For Learning and Culture” became a living mantra in the consciousness of an average OAU student and 
alumni. Indigenous knowledge suited more the students and graduates whose courses of study are culturespecific. Fine and Applied Arts Department is one of the culture-oriented disciplines that nurture the 
intellectualization of people’s customs, norms, and beliefs. It is therefore important that both the lecturers and 
students imbibe the culture-conscious spirit while articulating and reinventing established knowledge.
The Fine Arts Department became full-fledged in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree having hitherto produced a 
handful of students who graduated from the Faculty of Education.
It is therefore safe to say that the Art Department of the University of Ife; now Obafemi Awolowo University, 
has produced graduates spanning five decades. 
It wasn’t for fun that the University is hailed as “Great Ife”. The cognomen was coined to depict the wellacknowledged and robust academic stamina of the graduates. 
The curriculum of the Fine Arts Department was strengthened with courses in the humanities and the social 
sciences; thereby luring the students to a more theoretical exposition. It is therefore not a surprise that the 
stylistic trends that graduated from the department have espoused over the years are beyond skill acquisition; 
rather, the creative tendencies are scholarly and cultured.
The Ona group of artists started their form and content experiments by reinventing indigenous motifs in their 
design consciousness. Ona commenced with so much energy that it soon became a movement that is not 
limited to only Ife art graduates, but widespread among Nigerian artists.
The “Best of Ife” series of exhibitions that began in 1993 was to serve as a constant reminder to the Ife 
art graduates that while Onaism as an art concept should thrive, the art school should not be pigeonholed. 
Therefore, any artist who exemplified innovation and consistency was encouraged to follow such personal 
trends.
The Best of Ife yearly Exhibitions ran for many years anchored by remarkable individual and collective Ife 
art graduates.
The Ife Art graduates are now well-established among Contemporary artists all over the globe.
They have excelled in stylistic articulation and the use of new and iconic materials. The content of their works 
continues to promote socio-political ideologies and didactic intellectualization of indigenous concepts.
One can only wish the Art School greater and more intense creative follow-up to the unique standards already 
established.
Kunle Filani (MFA, PhD)
Professor of Visual Arts and Aesthetics, 
African American University,
Porto Novo and Canada.

Artist Bio:

I have the pleasure to welcome you to the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. The University was established in 1962 with the motto “For Learning and Culture”. The first set of B.A. Ed. (Hons) (Fine Arts/Education) students graduated in 1974 while the first set of B.A. (Hons) Fine Arts students graduated in 1976, a year after the establishment of a full-fledged Department of Fine Arts in 1975. The Department of Fine Arts was moved from the Faculty of Art

BEST OF IFE @ 30 (2023)

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