Born in 1928, Abayomi Barber was one of Nigeria’s most significant modern artist and teacher famous for his hyperealistic paintings and sculptures. He started his artistic career, first as a sculptor, at a very early age as a student inspired by the bronze sculptures he saw in the shrines of Ife on school excursions and visits and in the royal palace of his uncle, Oba Adesoji Aderemi, the then Ooni of Ife. He became interested in learning and exploring how they were made and was largely self-thought early on as an artist. During the coronation ceremony of his uncle in 1957 he gifted a portrait which won the heart of the iconic nationalist, Obafemi Awolowo. This won him a unique scholarship from the Western Regional Government to study at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, UK, where he lived from 1961 to 1971.

The idea and inspiration for Ali Maigoro first came in the early 60’s, during Barber’s stay in London. Having spent some time away he became homesick, missing and fantasizing a lot of things about his homeland: the peace, the warmth, the quiet and simple life, the friendly people etc. His solution was to invent a sculpture that captured these feelings. This became Ali Maigoro (a name he invented) – a depiction of a friendly old northern man with the missing teeth and a warm smile that brought joy to him in his apartment in London. The sculpture became for him a symbol of the Nigeria he missed so much and has kept spreading its warmth to lovers for decades. Barber went on to make several versions of it over the years. The present one in the collection of the Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art is the 7th in a series of 10 replicas he created in 2011.


  • Title: Ali Maigoro (7/10)
  • Creator: Abayomi Barber
  • Creator Lifespan: 1928/2021
  • Creator Nationality: Nigerian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Birth Place: Ile-Ife
  • Date Created: 2011
  • Location Created: Nigeria
  • Physical Dimensions: 45 x 25 x 20cm
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Original Source: Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art
  • Rights: Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, Pan-Atlantic University
  • Medium: Bronze

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