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Thing of beauty

Chief Z.O. Oloruntoba Biography

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Date of birth: 1st October, 1919

Place of birth: Ogidi

Nationality: Nigerian

State of origin: Kogi

Chief (Dr.) Otunba Zacheus Olowonubi Oloruntoba JP ("O-Láuren-tóba")

The Chief was born October 1, 1919. He is a spiritual leader, artist, herbalist, avid polo player to this day, flutist and film maker. His art is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Queen Elizabeth II, David Rockefeller, and Muhammad Ali.

He is also a well-known practitioner of herbal medicine who consults and conducts workshops at such institutions as the Georgetown University Medical School. The Chief uses medicinal herbs to dye the fibers he uses in his tapestries and feels, therefore, that his art has curative powers for the viewer. Glass would impede the flow of healing power and should never be put over the tapestries. There is also a practical reason to avoid glass: Over time it causes the deterioration of fiber art.

The medium: Cotton-cord applique on canvas. Hand-spun and herbal-dyed, applied with animal hide glue and set by the weight of a heavy slab of stone. Silk in appearance. Can be rolled, like any tapestry or rug for transport. The drawn pattern is often visible on the back.


British Council, Dugbe Ibadan, Nigeria, 1966

New York, 131 Prince Street, 1967

Museum of Modern Art, Lagos, Nigeria, 1968

Paris, 1968

British Council, Kano, Nigeria, 1969

Geneva, 1970

Commonwealth Institute, London, 1972

New York, One Man Shows, 1972-1975

Brussels, 1976

German Cultural Organization, Lagos, 1979

Italian Embassy, Lagos, 1982

Eko Hotel, Lagos, 1983-1996

Antwerp and Chicago, 1989

The October Gallery, London, 1989

Brazilian Embassy, Lagos, 1996

The October Gallery, London, Diasporas I & II, 1997

Frankfurt, 1997

Alliance, France, Paintings and Weavings, 1998

Artists Alliance Gallery, Accra, Ghana, 2001

The Wichita Center for the Arts, Kansas, 1999, 2000

The Dorothy Rogers Collection, Wichita, Kansas, 2003

The Dorothy Rogers Collection Online, 2003

The Bruce Museum, Greenwich, Connecticut, The Spirited Canvas: Toiles and Tapestries of Chief Z.O. Oloruntoba, 2002, Dorothy Danemiller Rogers, Curator

The October Gallery, London, New Works by Jimoh Buraimoh and Z.O. Oloruntoba, 2002

Stars in the Arts, with former Ambassador Andrew Young, Atlanta, Georgia, 2002

21st La Quinta Arts Festival, La Quinta, California, Special Guest Artist, 2003,Curator: Dorothy Danemiller Rogers

Dorothy Rogers Fine Art, Santa Fe, The Spirited Canvas II: Toiles and Tapestries of Chief Z.O. Oloruntoba, 2003

22nd La Quinta Arts Festival, La Quinta, California, March, 2004, Curator: Dorothy Danemiller Rogers

Dorothy Rogers Fine Art, Santa Fe, "The Spirited Canvas: Tapestries, July/August, 2004, Curator: Dorothy Danemiller Rogers

The Catskill Art Society, Sullivan County Museum, Hurleyville, New York, July, 2004, Curator: Dorothy Danemiller Rogers

The Museum of International Folk Art Market, Santa Fe, July 17 & 18, 2004, Curator: Dorothy Danemiller Rogers

The Museum of International Folk Art Market, Santa Fe, July 17 & 18, 2004, Curator: Dorothy Danemiller Rogers

Awards and Distinctions

Kenedica, U.S.A., 1968

Seaspuds cover and UNICEF award for "Traditional Flute Player," 1972

Certificate of Appraisal - The International Art Registry, Ltd., New York

Artwork on over 30 UNICEF cards

Corporate Merit Award of Excellence: Artist of the Year from the National Union of Printing, Publishing and Paper Product Workers (NUPPPPROW), Ibadan, Nigeria, 1998

Honored Guest Artist, La Quinta Arts Festival, California, March 20-23, 2003


Museum of Modern Art, New York

Queen Elizabeth II

David Rockefeller

Muhammad Ali

Jazz Musician, Ornett Coleman

Reverend Jesse Jackson

Susan Wengar (Adunni) Olosa, Nigeria

Studio Museum, New York

Mobil Oil Company, Lagos, Nigeria

His Royal Highness Oba Sonanwo, Ijebu-Segamu, Nigeria

Chevron Oil Company, Lagos

His Royal Highness Oba Adebimpe, The Olubadan of Ibadan Land, Nigeria

Colen Doman, U.S.A.

Texaco Inc., London

His Royal Highness Oba Iylola Motanmi Ataoja of Osogbo, Nigeria

Chief (Dr) ING M. A. Moser

Chief (Mrs) Maria Moser

Chief Fenapa, A Traditional Dance Cultural Centre, Ibadan

His Royal Highness Oba Sikiru Adetona Awujale of Ijebuland, Nigeria

Director of U.A.C., Chief Mesayete, Lagos

Chief Alphonso, Director Portland Cement, Lagos

His Royal Highness Oba Adeyemi Are-Jedege Ologidi of Ogidi land

Yeyelosun, Osogbo, Nigeria

Chief Olujumu of Ijumu, Kogi, Nigeria

Baale of Oke-Itunu Mokola, Nigeria

H.R.H. Oba Micheal Folorunsho Olobayo Obaro of Kabba

Chief Jens Victor Balogun of Ogidiland

Dr. John Yakubu, Commissioner of Justice, Oyo State, Nigeria

The Solicitor-General, Ministry of Justice, Secretariat, Ibadan

Elder O. A. Folarin, Ibadan

Erulu Elizabeth Oloruntoba Lectures

British Cultural Centre in Kaduna, Nigeria

American Cultural Centre in Lagos, Nigeria

Teacher's College for Women, Kabba, Kogi State, Nigeria

Institute of Traditional African Studies, Ibadan, Nigeria

British Cultural Centre, Ibadan

British Cultural Centre, Kano, Nigeria

Georgetown University, U.S.A.

Harvard University, U.S.A.

Weekend Third Eye Publication

Publications (selected)

King Marakapa's Dream with Michael Paplow at University of California, Los Angeles, 1970

Ghosts Led Him to Art, Gainesville Sun Daily, U.S.A., 1973

Air Afrique Magazine, 1974

Oloruntoba Due For America, Daily Sketch, March 23 1974

Life Magazine, Cultural Congress, Nov. 25, 1991

Morrouf the Cobbler, drama, Caravan of Dream's Forest, Texas, 1993

The Healer with a Brush, Sunday Tribune, Dec. 30, 1995

Weekend Third Eye, Dec. 2, 1995

Vogue Magazine, British Edition, Sept. 1995

The Wichita Eagle, Kansas, March 8, 2000

The New York Times, Paintings by Oloruntoba, March 24, 2002

The New York Times: Exploring Spirit, Human and Animal by William Zimmer, April 7, 2002

Ridgefield, New Canaan, Darien, Wilton, Redding, Weston, Lewisboro, Connecticut Newspapers, Spirited Canvas, March 28, 2002

Honorary Titles

Otunba of Ogidiland by His Royal Highness Oba Adeyemi Aare, Jedege 1, 1996

Justice of Peace by Oyo State Administrator Col. Ahmed Usman, 1998 National Service

Representative at a European Exhibition in Belgium as one of Nigeria's Outstanding Artists, 1983. Sponsored by Executive President Alhaji Sheu Shagari.

Chosen as outstanding artist and Nigerian to welcome United States President George W. Bush during his visit to Nigeria, July 2003

Clubs and Associations

President, St. John Ambulance Brigade in Oyo State

Patron, Executive Ladies Club Mokola, Ibadan, Nigeria

Polo Club, Ibadan

Patron to arts and drama societies, Nigeria, 1966-85

Chairman, Ibadan Unit O.D.U., Ogidi Kogi State, Nigeria

Chairman of Rotary Club, Lagos, Nigeria


Painting, herbal medicine, traveling, polo, singing, flute, dancing, film making, carpentry.