Chike Aniakor

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Chike Aniakor (1937) is a Nigerian academic, poet and painter who is a founding contributor to the development of the University of Nigeria's art training program and is known for being a member of the Nsukka artists group. He is also known for his modern decorative work and writings on the Uli visual genre which he started working on at Ahmadu Bello University, at the old Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria.


Aniakor was born to Igbo parents in Abatete, his father was a farmer while his mother worked as a singer and trader, she was also knowlegeable about uli. At an early age, Aniakor took part in local events such as dances and was inspired to develop his art craft after his work was praised by a teacher of his who later copied a drawing he made at the elementary school class. While going to secondary school at New Bethel College, he met an art teacher, Emmanuel Ulasi, who introduced his students to contemporary works of art. It was while attending classes of Ulasi that he developed creative landscapes, still life drawings, and used watercolors. After completing his secondary education, he became a teacher at a community school in Nnobi. While teaching, he asked students to make reproduced designs from the village and imbibe the spirit of field research and work.

Between 1960 and 1964, he attended the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, Zaria. Towards his final year at Zaria, he moved away from the conventional choice of using brown to paint human models employing varieties of colors and departing from photo realism. He wrote his B.A. thesis on Igbo carved doors. Aniakor later earned post graduate degrees from Indiana University.

In 1984, he co-authored ' Igbo Arts: Community and Cosmos', a detailed study of art in Igbo land stemming from a stint as a research consultant and associate at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Aniakor was a member of the University of Nigeria's art department were he played a formative role along with Uche Okeke and Amefunah in the development of art instruction at the college. He taught a class on the history of traditional African art and also on painting, drawing and mixed media.


According to Simon Ottenberg, Aniakor's style has a linear quality obtained from uli designs and tend to be two dimensional whether be it in ink, wash, pen and ink, oil mixed media or prints. Some critics assert that some of his earlier works emulates that of Uche Okeke and Igbo tales and myths, this may be based on the use of uli and Igbo life as inspiration for works. Aniakor sometimes asserts that his role in contemporary Uli art as not been properly acknowledged and that he developed his uli designs separately from Okeke who is considered the founder of contemporary uli art.

During the Nigerian civil war, Aniakor stayed in the Biafran side and witnessed some of the brutalities of the conflict. He first worked in a refugee camp at the onset of the war then moved to the Ministry of Information as an art editor where he wrote publicity materials. He drew some of what he saw but most of the drawings were destroyed by termites.

In 1972, Aniakor had his first solo exhibition and from that period, there was less use of Igbo life in his works. He later delved into visual socio-political commentary visible in such works as the Leader and Us.

External links

Article on Aniakor