Jimo Akolo Nigeria, b. 1934


Jimo Akolo is a leading modern master of art in Nigeria. As a painter and sculptor, his artworks focus on indigenous cultural traditions and Nigerian folklore, in addition to depictions of everyday life. His work is influenced by his life in Northern Nigeria, including its landscapes, encounters and sombre tones.

Born in Lagos in 1934 and originally from Egbe, Kogi State, Jimo Bola Akolo started painting early in his life while at Keffi Boys Secondary School. He was taught by Dennis Dueden, an education officer of the colonial government, at Keffi Government College. In this early period, Akolo was included in the 1956 exhibition Keffi Boys at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


Akolo attended the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, along with fellow artist peers Demas Nwoko, Bruce Onobrakpeya, Yusuf Grillo and Uche Okeke. He was a founding member of the Zaria Art Society, but broke off from the group early in his university education. He later studied at the Hornsey College of Art in London and Indiana State University in Bloomington. In 1966, he joined the faculty at Ahamadu Bello University, where he taught over three decades.


Akolo studied in Britain and the United States, and he has participated in numerous international exhibitions throughout his career, including a solo exhibition at the Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery in London in 1964. Akolo received Nigeria’s National Cultural Trophy in 1962. He served as an Education Officer in the Northern Nigeria Ministry of Education from 1963-1966. One of his murals is permanently installed at the Northern House of Assembly in Kaduna. In 2019, the National Gallery of Art in Abuja presented a retrospective exhibition of his works.