Art Review: Modernism in mid-20th-century drawings from Nigeria's Uche Okeke

Modernism in mid-20th-century drawings from Nigeria: Left, Uche Okeke’s “Design for Iron Work I,” from 1959; and “Okpaladike and his Obu,” from 1961. Credit Courtesy of the artist and Skoto Gallery

Histories of Modernism are constantly changing as scholars come to realize its global breadth and local particularities. The marketplace is slower on the uptake.

Although New York has a few galleries specializing in early-to-mid-20th-century Asian work, Skoto Gallery in Chelsea remains, more than two decades after it opened, the sole full-time outlet for comparable work from Africa. And it gives us some Modernism-merging-into-contemporary basics in a thumbnail survey of works on paper by the influential West African artist Uche Okeke.

Born in Nigeria in 1933, Mr. Okeke was, in the 1950s, a founding member of the Zaria Art Society, a group of academically trained experimental artists who joined Western mediums — oil paint, pastel, pen and ink — and African content.

Read more: Uche Okeke: ‘Works on Paper, 1958-1993’ –