Onyeka Ibe (1971 –)

Nigerian-born painter Onyeka Ibe has achieved international recognition for his dramatic approach to painting. Widely considered to be the most exciting young painter to emerge from Sub-Saharan Africa since the 1990s, he was awarded Best Solo Artist of the Year at the 2006 International Artexpo in New York. In 2007, Art Business News profiled him as one of today’s top artists. He continues to garner consistent media attention for his work in Canada, the United States, and Great Britain.

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Ibe was born not long after the end of the Nigerian civil war, and grew up in a developing democracy that was abruptly terminated. Violence became rampant. As a youth, Ibe realized that his artist’s sensibilities could move him in one of two directions: either to fight back at such dehumanizing situations, or to escape inward by searching for images that reflect humanity. He chose the latter.


Encouraged by his father, a painter himself, Ibe was introduced to drawing at a young age. At sixteen, he achieved public success when he first exhibited at the National Gallery of Modern Art in Lagos, Nigeria. Ibe was quickly offered a full scholarship to study art at the high school level. He went on to train at the University of Benin in Nigeria, earning first class honors (summa cum laude) in fine arts. After moving to the United States, he continued his education at Georgia State University and completed a Baccalaureate in Fine Art. He will soon graduate with a Masters in Fine Art from the Pratt Institute in New York with a minor in Art History and Criticism. With his unusually early start to professional painting, a so-called ‘double career’ is expected; Ibe has close to thirty years of experience while still only in his early forties.


Ibe has traveled extensively throughout the United States, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He looks for inspiration in natural and humanistic traditions of contemporary realism and abstraction. His work has been featured in art publications as well as major museums, private collections, and galleries around the world. Ibe was selected as one of three international artists to launch a new gallery in the upscale neighbourhood of Mayfair, London.