J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, ‘Pineapple’, 1963, Yossi Milo Gallery

Image rights: © J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere, Courtesy Yossi Milo Gallery, New York

About J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere

Since the 1960s, J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere has been documenting the culture of his native Nigeria in exquisite black-and-white photographs, capturing the elegance and exuberance of its celebrations, ceremonies, and daily life. He has amassed thousands of images, which together form an anthropological and ethnographic record that is considered to be a national treasure. With his keen eye for composition and attention to detail, Ojeikere finds art everywhere, as he describes: “I always wanted to record moments of beauty, moments of knowledge. Art is life.” This approach fuels his ongoing “Hairstyles” project (begun 1968), an internationally celebrated visual taxonomy of the hairstyles and headdresses worn by Nigerian women, captured at close range, often from behind. For Ojeikere, these hairstyles—from scalp-hugging braids to stunning sculptural forms—are ephemeral works of art, a notion that his photographs clearly affirm.

Nigerian, b. 1930, Ojomu Emai, Nigeria, based in Ketou, Nigeria