Akinola Lasekan was one of the pioneers of Nigerian modernism in art who was famous for portraiture. He was a self-thought artist before the colonial art education by the then British administration in the early 20th century. He was part of the first set of students formally trained by the English art teacher, Kenneth Murray who was sent to Nigeria by the colonial education department. In the 1940’s he and his peers became Nigeria’s first set of indigenous formal art educators and taught in government colleges and mission schools all over the country. He was also Nigeria’s first political cartoonist. In 1944, he joined the West African Pilot – a newspaper founded by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as a principal media weapon in the fight for Nigeria and African emancipation from the fist of colonialism. In doing this, he identified with the Nationalist Movement of the time and rendered his voice through his art. With acerbic tones, his cartoons condemned colonialism; were effective in sensitizing the continent on the value of freedom and political autonomy; and he served the newspaper till 1966. His work was acknowledged by all as a very significant contribution in the struggle for independence.
On Nnamdi Azikiwe, a portrait of Nigeria’s Independence Icon and first President, one sees the distinct naturalistic style of Lasekan characterized by his attention to detail and elegant use of colours. He made numerous portraits of top personalities and elites in the society in the course of his career.