Janine Sytsma

Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas, AK

Moyo Ogundipe’s Multisensorial Aesthetic

During his fifty-year art career, contemporary painter Moyo Ogundipe (1948-2017) frequently employed the Egungun festivals he experienced as a child in southwest Nigeria as a metaphor for the complexity of human experience. I argue that in paintings such as Detonation of Cosmic Seeds, 1995, he did not simply visualize the pageant of colors on display, but rather, he attempted to translate the multi-sensorial experience of the festivals, and simulated the dynamic spectacle of sights, sounds, movements, tastes, smells, and textures. Moreover, using this multisensorial aesthetic, Ogundipe produced an immersive, holistic, bodily experience, which, much like the Egungun festivals that inspired him, serve to enable deeper understanding of the cosmos and our position within it.


Janine Sytsma, Ph.D., is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Arts at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Her research in global African arts has been supported by a Fulbright-Hays DDRA Fellowship, a CIC-Smithsonian Institution Fellowship, an Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Foundation Fellowship, and several University of Wisconsin fellowships, and her recent article, “For Learning and Culture: The Early History of Art Training at the University of Ife,” was published in Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture. She has also curated several exhibitions in the United States and Nigeria, including, most recently, (Re)visions: New Works by Uchay Joel Chima (2015) and Mythopoeia: Recent Paintings by Moyo Ogundipe (2016).