(1933 - 2016)
Christopher Uchefuna Okeke was born on 30 April 1933 in Nimo, Nigeria. Considered as a father figure in the history of Nigerian modernism, he had inspired many Nigerian artists and African art historians, including some of the world’s avant-garde. He attended St. Peter Claver's Primary School, the Metropolitan College and the Bishop Shanahan College from 1940 to 1953 during which time he had already begun to demonstrate an avid interest and inclination in drawing and painting. He exhibited taxidermy work during a Field Society meeting, followed by a solo exhibition of his drawings and paintings in Jos Museum even before he decided to pursue a degree in Fine Art at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology. While an undergraduate Okeke along with fellow artists inaugurated the Zaria Art Society and later opened a cultural center which became the Asele Institute in Nimo. He was appointed as a lecturer and acting head of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Nigeria in early 1970. Starting 1973, he hold several positions both in the academe and cultural institutions including as Director of the Institute of African Studies at the University of Nigeria in Nsukka, a visiting professor to the Department of Creative Arts, University of Port Harcourt, Honorary Deputy Director-General of International Biographical Centre in Cambridge, among numerous other engagements in different parts of the world. Esteemed and prolific, he exhibited widely in his native Nigeria and abroad. Notable exhibitions include Summer Show 2011 - Skoto Gallery, New York (2011); Selections 2010 - Skoto Gallery, New York (2010); Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic - Tate Liverpool, England (2010); Another Modernity: Works on Paper by Uche Okeke - The Newark Museum, NJ (2006); The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945-1994, New York, Chicago, Berlin & Munich (2001); Century City: Art and Culture in the Modern Metropolis - Tate Britain, London (2001); The Poetics of Line - Seven Artists of the Nsukka Group, Nigeria; and the National Museum of African Art, Washington (1998). Okeke passed away in Nimo on January 2016.