Ben (Benedict Chukwukadibia) Enwonwu, M.B.E (Nigerian, 1917-1994)
Woman on a forest path signed and dated 'BEN ENWONWU / 1949' (lower right) oil on canvas 66 x 84.5cm (26 x 33 1/4in).
PROVENANCE: Purchased directly from the artist by the current owner's uncle Thence by descent to the current owner
Painted the year after Enwonwu completed his studies in Britain and returned to Nigeria as Art Supervisor in the Information Services Department of the Colonial Office, Woman on a forest path reflects Enwonwu's return to the familiar Nigerian landscape.
In the current lot, Enwonwu pays homage to the "sacred groves in his [representation] of the tropical rain forest", revelling in its "verdant foliage". As art historian Sylvester Ogbechie explores, in the late 1940s and 1950s, depictions of indigenous rituals, local industry and significant landscapes were central to the intellectual and aesthetic exploration of an emergent nationalist identity.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: S.O. Ogbechi, Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist, (Rochester, 2008), p.91