Oliver Okolo Nigeria, b. 1992


Oliver Okolo has emerged as one of the most exciting artists working out of Nigeria today and is a central figure in a new vanguard whose portrayal of Black people in confident and assertive gaze, challenges and dismantles negative racial constructs and knowledge systems.

Oliver Okolo uses charcoal and paint to capture the subjects of his striking portraits. The rich shading of Okolo’s portraiture recalls the work of fellow Nigerian artist Barry Yusufu, and his work also feels in dialogue with other prominent contemporary artists creating figurative work such as Amoako Boafo. Today, Okolo’s paintings and drawings often start from Western art-historical reference points, recasting works from Vermeer and Michelangelo with Black subjects. He refers to his practice as “classical contemporealism,” a term meant to reflect his blending of classical and contemporary styles.


Oliver Okolo (b.1992) is intrigued by mysteries of the human figure as a unique work of nature. After studying at Caritas University, where he gained a bachelor’s degree in industrial relations and personnel management, Oliver Okolo decided to follow his desire to become an artist. He creates works that speak to subjects he feels are neglected or not spoken about in Nigeria. With a continued desire and need for artistic growth, in 2016, he studied and worked in the atelier of Clement Nwafor, a master in painting and drawing. Okolo works in many artistic mediums but has a preference for charcoal because of its versatility and texture. He devotes his time in the studio to the study of his artistic technique and the search for continuous improvement of his expressive capabilities.

Art Fairs
Grace Behind A Tall Grass, 2021