Onabolu, Aina (1882–1963) By Ezeluomba, Ndubuisi
Born on 13 September 1882 in Ijebu-Ode, Aina Onabolu was the pioneer of Nigerian Modern Art. He occasioned a radical revolution that facilitated the inclusion of arts scholarship into the curriculum of colonial Nigeria in the 1920s. As a self-taught artist, Onabolu developed his drawing and painting skills through pictures gleaned from European textbooks and magazines that were available to him in the early 20th century, when formal art training was not yet available in Nigeria. Although he became an accomplished artist, Onabolu’s greatest influence was in teaching art; after obtaining a diploma in fine arts from European art schools, he returned to Nigeria to promote the fine arts through education and policy reform. As a teacher, Onabolu sought to make his students understand the technical aspects of art. He emphasized the sciences of perspective, proportion, color technology, and chiaroscuro, encouraging students to take courses like drawing, basic design, and painting, and thus earning him the title Mr. Perspective around Lagos, as well as a reputation that would later mark him as the Father of Modern Nigerian Art.