Daily Archives: February 24, 2012

Prince Twins Seven-Seven

Twins Seven-Seven, Indigo Arts, Crane Arts Center

Prince Twins Seven-Seven, Igarra, Nigeria, 1944 – 2011, Acrobatic Dancers, 2007, oil, acrylic, ink and pastel on plywood, Indigo Arts, Crane Arts Center

Prince Twins Seven-Seven is an artist from Nigeria who actually passed away last June.”  Indigo Arts Gallery owner Tony Fisher explained to DoN, “He was probably the most prominent living Nigerian artist at the time and he spent quite a lot of time in Philadelphia.  The last fifteen years he spent a lot of his time in Philadelphia because he was in some degree in exile from Nigeria both political problems and personal financial problems.  He was in Philadelphia for quite a while, the last five years or so he was back in Nigeria before he passed away.  But, he was told since he has a Green Card he could come back and forth every six months.  He would stop in every six months, and in a lot of the cases, bring me new work.”

Twins Seven-Seven, Monkey with Fish, Indigo Arts, Crane Arts Center

Prince Twins Seven-Seven, Monkey with Fish, 2007, oil, acrylic, ink and pastel on plywood, Indigo Arts, Crane Arts Center

“He was not born with the name Prince Twins Seven-Seven, he took that name on to commemorate the fact that according to his mother, according to him, he was the sole survivor of seven successive sets of twins.  Obviously the child death rate in a country like that is high, seven sets of twins in a row and they all died in childbirth or whatever, even his own twin died.  It’s not totally unbelievable in that Nigeria, the Yoruba people of Nigeria gave the highest rate of twins on Earth.  As a result of that, in their religion there is a special place for twins.  There’s a cult called the Ibedgi cult that honors twins with these little figures that are carved that represent when one or both twins die the figures represent them.  Either the surviving twin or the mother of the deceased twins will keep that figure and honor it, feed it, dance with it in ceremonies, things like that for the rest of her life.  There’s really a special place for twins in that culture.”

Twins Seven-Seven, Indigo Arts, Crane Arts Center

Prince Twins Seven-Seven, Indigo Arts, Crane Arts Center

“In his case I think he had a real flair for names, in general he had a flare for drama and I think he had the second Seven because it sounded better than Twin Seven.  This was in 1964, which was in kind of the era of 77 Sunset Strip so he didn’t credit it to that but Seven-Seven had a good sound to it.  So he emerged as in artist in 1964 when he first started painting and he was immediately very successful in Nigeria.  He appeared in shows all over the world, several museum shows in Europe, he was really a very big name.  In the period that he was in Philadelphia he was kind of in decline, I think he had kind of been forgotten and he was really, well it was in the last five years that he was really beginning to revive again.  There were several shows of his work, the Philadelphia Art Museum bought a major piece that they have there now, the Smithsonian has one of his pieces, so, he was picking up but he didn’t get to enjoy it for long.  Unfortunately, it’s like so many artists’ tale, I’m sure it won’t happen instantly but his reputation will rise again since we’re now looking back on him as a key figure of post independence African art.”

DoNArTNeWs Philadelphia Art News Blog

Photographs by DoN Brewer

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