CREATIVITY, PROFESSIONALISM AND FUNCTIONALITY IN THE WORKS OF MUFU ONIFADE, FROM 1992 – 2012
Artists evolve technicalities and styles in visual arts, which result not only in creative excellence but also in serious critical discussion. Such discussions evaluate the visual arts and artists in the context of aesthetic and artistic judgment. However, the critical discussion on artistic judgment and its documentation in Nigeria appears to favour only the pioneers of modern Nigerian art, thereby leaving out the budding artists, like Mufu Onifade, who are equally creative and versatile in some areas of visual arts. Mufu Onifade has been charting and developing freely his own artistic direction and personal vision, leading to a highly creative, intellectual and professional identity. His art discourses epitomize the profundity of art history, research and ductility of language. To prove the creativity, intellectualism, professionality and versatility of Mufu Onifade, a painter who invented Ara art style, therefore, this study focuses on his biographical background, the themes and styles of his Araism movement, the colour influence on his followers and the functions of his paintings and critical writings. The study also locates the indigenous nature of his motifs, his contribution to art criticism in Nigeria and presents the factors that make him versatile as an artist and art critic, covering his selected early works, including drawings and animal skin paintings, but focusing on Ara art, which includes his paintings and those of his disciples from 1992 to 2012. Finally, the research acknowledges and documents Mufu Onifade’s great creative excellence and versatility in some areas of visual arts. In this regard, the research strives to bridge the gap in acknowledgement and documentation between the pioneer artists of modern Nigerian art and the budding ones, hoping to inspire further studies, particularly on Araism Movement, and thereby promote indigenous artistic language.