Prince Twins Seven-Seven created a unique and powerful style that rejected the international misconception of a division between the traditional and contemporary in African art. On display now through Jan. 15, 2023.
ST. PETERSBURG – The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg (MFA) is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition “Multiple: Prince Twins Seven-Seven.” The new collection is on view now through Jan. 15, 2023. in the Minck Gallery, which is supported by the Helen and Richard Minck Memorial Fund.
This “Multiple: Prince Twins Seven-Seven” exhibition highlights the visionary work of Prince Twins Seven-Seven (Nigerian, 1944–2011), who was the only surviving child out of seven pairs of twins born to his mother. Because of this and the associated traditional religious beliefs of the Yorùbá people of Nigeria, he held that he possessed unique spiritual insight and power.
His perceptions, in turn, profoundly impacted his artistic expression as a printmaker, painter, and sculptor. Prince Twins Seven-Seven created a unique, powerful, and international style that bridges traditional and contemporary arts by blending abstracted images of the physical world and evocations of the spirit world.
“Multiple: Prince Twins Seven-Seven” features 14 total pieces, including 10 works on paper by Prince Twins Seven-Seven and four other Yorùbá works of art from the MFA’s collection.
“It is rare to see so many of Prince Twins Seven-Seven’s early works together,” said Dr. Genevieve Hill-Thomas, curator of the exhibition. “When most people think about African art, they think about masks and small wooden figures. Prince’s art is, on the one hand, drawn from traditional Yorùbá art, but at the same time, he created uniquely modern pieces that reflect his lived experiences — both in Nigeria and the United States.”
Prince Twins Seven-Seven began his artistic life singing and dancing in a band. He then shifted his attention to the visual arts after participating in a workshop established in the late 1960s by Ulli and Georgina Beier (German, 1922—2011; English, 1938—2021) in Oṣogbo, Nigeria.
There he was encouraged to explore different types of media, including the literature of Nigerian author Amos Tutuola (Nigerian, 1920-1997). This ultimately led him to create a distinctive style that remains rooted in the physical environment, even though it evokes otherworldly visions. His work is akin to the literary genre of Magical Realism, which creates a realistic view of the world while adding supernatural elements to blur the lines between spirits and humans.
“Multiple: Prince Twins Seven-Seven” offers a remarkable opportunity to examine the complicated, richly symbolic work of the artist, who relied on both artistic legacy and innovation. The artist’s paintings, prints, and drawings also powerfully repudiate the frequently misconceived division between the traditional and contemporary in African art. One of the unique features of this exhibition is the MFA’s holdings of early Prince Twins Seven-Seven prints in different states, which provide a special view into his working process during the first half of his career.
The new exhibition is on view now through Jan. 15, 2023, in the Minck Gallery, which is supported by the Helen and Richard Minck Memorial Fund. For more information, visit mfastpete.org.