Born upon a blank canvas fifty-five years ago in Benin City, Ben took up the brush and swiped strokes that would turn out as some of the most prized pieces of indigenous Nigerian Art. With his Art and life, Ben greatly inspired us and many others.
As fate would have it, Ben will wield the brush to paint no more, but the implications and interpretations of his works are endless, and will captivate the minds of art consumers for many years to come.
Ben didn’t leave his footprints on the canvas alone; he taught painting, drawing and art history at his alma mater – the Auchi Polytechnic – between 1990 and 1995, thus presiding over the molding of artistic minds for the future.
For his genius upon the canvas and in the classroom, Ben will continue to have a voice – unchanged, but dynamic – in Nigeria’s social, academic, and artistic spheres. In this sense, the artist never dies.
Ben Osaghae was born on June 23, 1962, in Benin City Edo State. His early education was also in Benin where he attended the Edopkolo Grammar School. Ben proceeded to the Federal Polytechnic Auchi to study General. He graduated with the Higher National Diploma (HND) and also as the best student in the class of 1986. In the same year, he earned the Rectors Award for Excellence (in the Federal Polytechnic Auchi).
The same institution retained him as a lecturer in painting, drawing and Art history, a position he held from 1990 to 1995. Ben having had enough of the classroom moved to Lagos and soon became a renowned and established painter. He became a professional studio artist until his demise on January 17, 2017.
Ben was a member of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA) and the Guild of Professional Fine Artists of Nigeria (GFA) and numerous other organisations and professional bodies. Some of his well-known and acclaimed works include Marriage of Justice (2001), Prey and Predator (2011), Unfair sentence (2013), Cell Mates (2005).
His works featured prominently in several art auctions and exhibitions in Nigeria and abroad. Ben was known for his social commentaries especially the Nigerian national conversations bordering on the state of the polity, which is very evident in his paintings and drawings. He once stated, “the tiles of my paintings are very important as they allow me to poeticize the work and add another level of meaning…My paintings have a narrative; I’m telling stories in my own idiom. I want to show the complicated web in which politics and business are interwoven in Nigeria”.
Ben lived and worked in Lagos until January 2017. We urge everyone to find Ben Osaghae in his works, and pay attention to his rich and intriguing thoughts.