The Asele Period (1958-1966) of Uche Okeke’s career was very significant and marked by a holistic exploration of local indigenous traditions of his Igbo people and expression with European techniques: this was the idea behind the “Natural Synthesis” philosophy of the Zaria Art society. In Igboland, art is generally believed to be inspired by the goddess of the land, Ala or Ana. It comes from mother nature and is seen by the people as a means of sustaining both the spiritual and physical well-being of the and that of their neighboring communities. Thus, art represents the life of the people and a manifestation of their ingenuity and creativity as a people. Uli is the traditional art form of the Igbo people known as murals, commonly done for decoration of homes by women. The process of making uli known as Ide Uli or Ise Uli is also used by the women to paint and beautify the human body.

Asele on the other hand is a mythical designer in traditional Igbo mythology, the finest designer of the uli aesthetic style who draws his creative inspiration from Ana. During his time, Uche Okeke claimed to have been inspired by Asele. At the stream is a drawing of two women in a village river. One appears to be bathing naked in the water while the other is squatting and holding her round water pot at the river bank. Uli motifs (linear and curvilinear shapes, dots, circles, crescents etc) are dominant in the representation of the characters and forms including the surface of the water, grasses and surrounding trees. Uche Okeke shows his creative uli design instincts as an “Asele” in this typical village river scene.


  • Title: At the Stream
  • Creator: Uche Okeke
  • Creator Lifespan: 1933/2016
  • Creator Nationality: Nigerian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Nimo
  • Creator Birth Place: Nimo
  • Date Created: 1966
  • Location Created: Nigeria
  • Physical Dimensions: 30 x 25cm
  • Type: Drawing
  • Original Source: Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art
  • Rights: Yemisi Shyllon Museum of Art, Pan-Atlantic University
  • Medium: Pen on Paper

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