Prince Twins Seven-Seven changed his birth name, Olaniyi Osuntoki, to signal his status as the sole surviving child of his parents’ seven sets of twins. “They believed that I was the reincarnation of twins they had lost,” .
“Prince” was more than a flourish. His grandfather was king of Ibadan in the 1890s and, until the artist became seriously ill, he was about to be installed as chief of his clan, the Osuntoki.
A dancer and singer, Prince Twins Seven-Seven found his calling as an artist in the 1960s when he became part of an experimental school in the city of Oshogbo run by Ulli Beier.
He began drawing in pen and ink on paper, but soon began using ink and paint on large sheets of laminated plywood. His subject matter was Yoruban myths, many of them recited to him by his mother, but others absorbed through the novels of Amos Tutuola and Daniel O. Fagunwa. In a consciously naïve style, he depicted village scenes, animals and deities, especially the goddess Oshun, filling in outlines and borders with jewel-colored patterns based on traditional textiles.
Taiwo Olaniyi Osuntoki Oyewale was born on May 3, 1944, in the village of Ijara. As a young man, he danced with a traveling medicine show that sold Superman Tonic.
In 1964 he crashed a party at the Oshogbo art school and soon became integrated into its group of artists. After an exhibition of his work was mounted in Oshogbo, he moved to Lagos and later to London. His work was included in the 1989 exhibition “Magiciens de la Terre” (“Magicians of the Earth”) at the Pompidou Center in Paris.
He later formed a band, for which he was the lead singer and occasional drummer, and which recorded a number of hit records; he continued to perform and record throughout his life. Like his artwork, his music was rooted in folk tradition.
and now these magic paintings are coming alive in sounds:
Twins Seven Seven's Black Ghosts International sing and play for Oshun