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Twin Seven-Seven dies

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The National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) has joined the rest of the international arts community in mourning, following the death of veteran Nigerian artist Olaniyi Osuntoki, popularly known as Twin Seven-Seven, who died on June 15 in Nigeria.
He was 67.

Osuntoki, who died at the University College Hospital in Ibadan where he had been admitted following a stroke, had some of his works exhibited locally.

“The news from Nigeria on the death of Twin Seven-Seven shocked not only the Nigerian art community but also the rest of the world,” said the NGZ’s curator, Raphael Chikukwa.

Chikukwa said Osuntoki would always be remembered as one of the greatest artists of the continent and one could not talk of Nigerian art without mentioning his name.

He said Osuntoki was one of the most famous products of Ulli Beier’s experimental art workshops held in Osogbo in the 1960s and his works were in collections around the world and in a number of African museums including Zimbabwe.

“In recognition of his contribution to the promotion of dialogue and understanding among peoples, particularly in Africa and the African Diaspora, he was named a Unesco Artist for Peace in the year 2000 in the presence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo who was then chairman of the African Union,” said Chikukwa

He said Osuntoki’s ecounter with the graphic arts and painting came about in 1964 when he met a group of artists known as the Mbare Mbayo Group.

Then he began by drawing on paper and his encounter with drawing and engraving thereafter remained a constant and central reference in his work.

His artworks have been exhibited in a number of international museums throughout the world including the National Museum of Modern Art – Georges Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Houston Contemporary Arts Museum USA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York USA, the National Museum of African Art in Washington DC, National Gallery of Zimbabwe and the National Modern Art Gallery in Lagos.

“Twin Seven-Seven was a great artist not only in Nigeria, and it is sad that the continent has been robbed of yet another great talent. He will be missed by many but his work will live forever. Our hearts go to the Nigerian art community and his family at large,” said NGZ executive director Doreen Sibanda.

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