Asiru Olatunde



Asiru Olatunde



Birth Date



Oshogbo, Nigeria

Death Date


Biographical Text

Asiru Olatunde was born in 1918 in Oshogbo, Nigeria and trained as a blacksmith like his father and grandfather before him. A serious illness forced him to look for other work, and he took up ceremonial drumming which he’d learnt since boyhood. He also made bangles in the shape of animals to sell at the market.

Starting with small copper ornaments, his work gradually evolved into the repousse on aluminium panels – a technique of reverse-hammering - for which he became famous.

He would draw the subject on the reverse of the panel and then beat out the scenes with a small metal punch. The imagery was inspired not only from Yoruba stories and customs, but also Biblical stories that were set in Nigerian scenery and local everyday life.

Olatunde’s work was widely exhibited in Europe and US, with an exhibition at the IMF headquarters in Washington. One work is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institute.

Olatunde died in 1993.

Oshogbo Art School:

The West African city of Oshogbo, Nigeria, has been the traditional centre for the ancient Yoruba spirituality, language, and culture and, since the 1960s, the birthplace for much contemporary Nigerian art.

Following the country’s independence from the British empire in 1960, and the unrest of several military coups, a growth in cultural activity developed into a movement of modern art that would build on and continue the indigenous art traditions. Yoruba religion and customs, which had lost some prominence after centuries of both Christian and Muslim missions, was a great influence. Literary scholar Ulli Beier, his wife Georgina, and Suzanne Wenger were instrumental in stimulating and encouraging this rise in visual arts during their residencies in Nigeria.

The idea behind their Oshogbo art experiment was to bring together young, creative people without formal art training and encourage them to paint from their cultural heritage, but not merely to produce traditional art. Their activity ranged from painting and sculpture to music and theatre. The experiment was such a success that today Oshogbo is recognized as a major arts centre of Nigeria attracting international attention with its Oshogbo Art School, arts festivals, and an ever-growing group of artists.


“Asiru Olatunde,” Tyler Collection of Romanian and Modern Art: University of Tasmania, accessed December 4, 2022,