Showcasing Nigeria’s Rich Cultural Heritage through ‘Rare and Large’ Collection

Chief John Edokpolo showing a painting  to some of the guests

Ekasa, a cultural heritage of the Benin people

Massive and outstanding describe the works in the collection at the second edition of the Ambassadors’ Nite exhibition holding in the National Museum, Lagos, between December 2 and December 9, 2012.
They are a true representation of the rich and peculiar heritage of Nigeria, embedded in the works of art jealously kept in the pricey collection of Chief John Edokpolo.

                                  The raffle draw star price presented by First Bank of Nigeria 

Besides the extra-life sizes of the works, they each tell beautiful and historic stories of people across Nigeria. Like a number of other sculptural pieces and paintings on display at the exhibition, the star painting titled ‘ Ekasa: Myth and Reality’  is a  patron’s delight.  

It is rich in cultural history and aesthetics. The work tells the mythical story of the Ekasa dance among the Benin people of Edo State, and the spice of the ‘reality’ side of the story is very much alive with the Edokpolo family.

Mufu Onifade,curator of the event, explains the significance of the Ekasa painting as it meets the reality. “The myth that whosoever the Oba takes the Ekasa from during the dance becomes very wealthy happened in the life of Chief john Edokpolo Senior.  

At age 17, Oba Akenzua who was on the throne of Benin Kingdom,  took the Ekasa from him while the dance was being performed and it became a reality in his life as he became a very successful industrialist.”

A strong believer in the promotion of Nigerian artists and cultural pieces that can compete with works from any part of the world, Edokpolo’s passion was groomed right from his origin. “I am deeply rooted into the arts”, he said. “My father is from Igun Street, where the best of bronze sculptures are created and my mother is from Igbesawan, where you have the unbeatable woodwork art.”

It is worthy of note that though Edokpolo has been collecting these rare pieces of artworks, he has not considered selling any of them until this time. When asked the criteria he would consider for selling, he could not separate himself from the love and passion he has for the works.  

He said, “Whosoever would buy any of these works must be able to take good care of them , which is my foremost concern. Again, I just imagine what price money I could put on any of these works.”

The rarity of these works remains in the fact that they are all commissioned by him, with themes given by him to guide the production of the works. The element of size and story angle comes from Edokpolo and remains his sentimental point that builds his attachment to the works.

                                                             Squad 1 Production dancers

Some of the titles in the collection include: 

‘Dance to Enchanting Songs’ by Bruce Onobrakpeya;  ‘Oni Dodo Oni moin moin’ by Bimbo Adenugba; ‘Virgin of Ila Orangun’ by Bisi Fakeye; ‘Iba (Benin Space Ship)’ by Amos Odion; ’Germination’ by Erhabor Emokpae; ‘At the Camp’ by Kolade Oshinowo; ‘Identical Twins’ by Amonday Akhidue; ‘Mother and Child’ by Reuben Ugbine; ‘Iwe’ by Smart Owie; ‘Election Riggers,Where are the Ballot Boxes’ by Kofi Asemnyinah; ‘Metaphysics’ by Obi Ekwenchi; ‘Festival and Carnival’ by Mufu Onifade; ‘Battle for Oil Block’ by E. Ojo; ‘Inheritance Menu’ by Toyin Alade; ‘Peace and Unity: Nigerian Tribes’ by Chika Idu; Plebeian Weds Princess’ by Ogaga Tuodeinye; ‘Elegance: Ovia Maidens’ by Sam Ajobiewe; ‘Girl and the Pot’ by Chidi Kwubiri, and  others that make up the fifty-eight works for the exhibition, which is powered by Eko Modupe Limited and packaged by ARA Studio, with sponsorship from First Bank.