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Susanne Wenger

(1915 - 2009) Susanne Wenger, popularly known as Adunni Olorisa during her lifetime, was born on the 4th of July 1915 in Graz, Southern Austria. She was one of the most significant artists of post-war Austria and an instrumental figure in the history of Nigerian modernism. Wenger attended the local School of Applied Arts before she moved to Vienna to continue her art education. She first studied at the School of Graphic Design before attending the Academy of Art from 1933 to 1935. Despite the horror of the First World War during her time, her determination to paint remained strong, making her paint surreal pictures, a product born in times of fear and despair. Few of her works, a product of her interest in contemporary post-secessionist movements, exemplify different styles ranging from pencil studies of plants and animal bodies, executed with almost photographic precision, to expressionistic, cubist painting, and surrealist crayon drawings. She was the founding member of the Art Club in Vienna in 1946, an international association club proclaiming the right to artistic freedom. In 1957, she moved with his husband, Ulli Beier, to the beautiful old stone house built in the Brazilian style in Osogbu, which became her home for the rest of her life. For more than 40 years in Osogbu, her numerous contributions found international acclaim. These include the sacred shrines, monumental sculptures, her work in the groves, her involvement in the Yoruba Traditions, and her paintings, drawings, and batiks. She also illustrated and designed books by Yoruba authors, wrote books for children, and contributed to the legendary black Orpheus Magazine founded by Ulli Beier. Her paintings on plywood panels during the mid-1960s covered extensive themes from the history of humanity, the Bible, world literature, environmental issues, and subjects from Yoruba mythology. She later became a priestess of the Yoruba deity and was acclaimed as a living goddess, a guardian of the Osun Shrine in Osogbo, which later became a UNESCO World Heritage in 2005. In 2008, she was declared a Member of the Order of The Federal Republic by the Nigerian Government. She passed in Osogbo on 12th January 2009.