Erhabor Emokpae

  • Born 1934 in Benin City, Nigeria
  • Died 1984 in Lagos State, Nigeria
Erhabor Emokpae began working in a romantic and ethnographic figurative style, and later in abstraction. He is known for his paintings featuring legendary individuals in African history and for his lifelong artistic focus on the theme of dualism. His earliest artistic influences date back to his childhood, especially the Benin guild of carvers. In 1951 he moved to Lagos and attended the Yaba Technical Institute. He also studied privately with a graphic artist and became a commercial artist for the Federal Ministry of Information in 1953. Following Nigeria’s independence (1960), Emokpae gained recognition in the emerging modern Nigerian art scene. His contributions to cultural policy and his efforts to redefine public perception of contemporary modern Nigerian art began when he helped organize the Eastern Nigeria Festival of Arts (1956–59). During the 1960s and ’70s, Emokpae served as secretary for the newly founded Society of Nigerian Artists and the Lagos Arts Council. After working as a graphic artist for the advertising agency Lintas, he finally decided to become a professional painter and muralist. Some of his most acclaimed works are for the 1977 Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) and the National Arts Theatre building, Lagos.

Artworks by Erhabor Emokpae in the exhibition