March 2, 2020
Recently in going through my archives I discovered these beautifully, brilliant 4×5” color slides, showcasing their incredible artistry; imagery which has not been seen in almost 35 years. Since then Yemisi, Cornelius and Oni have passed on while Bintu, still living in Oshogbo and doing well. I’ve managed to preserve some of these beautiful, masterful and unique works of Yemisi, Cornelius and Oni which are now ready for your collection.
My relationship with these brilliant artists Yemisi, Cornelius and Oni began in 1982 through meeting Nike’ Olaniyi Twin Seven-Seven, the wife of Chief Twin Seven-Seven in Lagos, Nigeria. She invited me and Swedish journalist, Leif Sorensen to Oshogbo to cover Twin’s Oshogbo Art Gallery and to learn more about their work. It quickly became my getaway spot from Lagos; a three hour ride into the upcountry of Oyo State for enjoying quiet Nigerian living and culture in a place called Oshogbo, now referred to by the name of Oshun State. It was there I met one of Nigeria’s premier artists, Prince Olaniyi Twin Seven-Seven and became good friends with the artists of his gallery; a place where creative thought flourished as we took our conversations to different realms.
At the gallery you’d find Cornelius embroilded in the detailed technique of pen and ink drawing and off to the side Yemisi, Bintu, Nike’ and Oni would be sitting or standing over tables collaborating on producing some of the riches cultural stories ever seen in batik paintings. (I believe through Nike’s childhood art experiences she was able to teach the other wives and Oni batik-making). Afterward it was off the indigo pots where the wax on their drawings were removed, laid on the grass or hung to dry.
In the summer of 1984, after four years of wondrous living; working as a freelance photographer in Lagos, I was taking leave of Nigeria for New York City. Upon learning of my departure Nike’ asked me to represent Cornelius Arinju, Yemisi and Bintu Olaniyi Twin Seven Seven along with Yemisi’s younger sisiter, Oni Abiodun in New York. There were my friends and as a visual artist, I recognized the beauty and powerful quality of their work as being exceptional. It was the cultural and spiritual stories of their imagery; things seen and unseen which captured my imagination, educating me on the enchanting beauty of Yoruba tradition, spirituality and the simplicity of life we lost in enslavement.
In 1985 I formed a company called JHR Import-Export Inc. now Cash Fine-Art Publishers. From 1985-86 Yemisi, Cornelius and Oni exhibit their work throughout the New York area. We exhibited first at the Lucia Gallery in Soho in 1985, curated by myself and then on to The Plaza Gallery in Inglewood, NJ under the curatorial dircection of Jeanette Curtis; later exhibiting at the Langston Hughes Library under the guise of Andrew Jackson.
The summer of ’86 found Yemisi and Oni, holding a batik making workshop at The Works Gallery in Newark NJ under the guidance of prolific artists Bisa Washington and the now famous Willie Cole.
However, it wasn’t until 1986 when they exhibited at The Grinnell Gallery in Harlem, under the curatorial eyes of Dr. Ademola Olugebefola and the late Pat Davis, did their work really take off.
So take your time, go through their paintings, drawings and select the imager which best represents a perfect fit for your style of living.
Blessings to you and your families and STAY SAFE,
Howard T. Cash