MFA St. Petersburg opens new exhibition, 'Multiple: Prince Twins Seven-Seven'

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MFA St. Petersburg opens new exhibition, 'Multiple: Prince Twins Seven-Seven'
Twins Seven-Seven, Green Painting (detail), 1944. Ink and mixed media on paper. Gift of Irwin and Marcia Hersey.

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.- The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg opened its exhibition, Multiple: Prince Twins Seven-Seven. The new exhibition will be on view from August 13, 2022 through January 15, 2023 in the Minck Gallery, which is supported by the Helen and Richard Minck Memorial Fund. This exhibition highlights the visionary work of Prince Twins Seven-Seven (Nigerian, 1944–2011), who was the only surviving child out of seven pairs of twins born to his mother. Because of this, and the associated traditional religious beliefs of the Yorb people of Nigeria, he held that he possessed unique spiritual insight and power. His perceptions in turn had a profound impact on his artistic expression as a printmaker, painter, and sculptor. Blending abstracted images of the physical world and evocations of the spirit world, Prince Twins Seven-Seven created a unique, powerful, and international style that bridges traditional and contemporary arts. Multiple: Prince Twins Seven-Seven features 14 total pieces, including 10 works on paper by Prince Twins Seven-Seven and four other Yorb works of art from the MFA’s collection.

“This exhibition spotlights an artist with a truly distinctive and symbolic style,” said Dr. Genevieve Hill-Thomas, Consulting Curator of African Art at the MFA. “Prince Twins Seven-Seven’s ability to combine his own unique sense of color, pattern, and evocations of spirit and dreams with the traditional Yorb artistic legacies creates artwork that draws you into what feels like another realm. The MFA is incredibly honored to have his magnificent work on display.”

Prince Twins Seven-Seven began his artistic life singing and dancing in a band. He then shifted his attention to the visual arts after participating in a workshop established in the late 1960s by Ulli and Georgina Beier (German, 1922—2011; English, 1938—2021) in Oṣogbo, Nigeria. There he was encouraged to explore different types of media, including the literature of Nigerian author Amos Tutuola (Nigerian, 1920-1997). This ultimately led him to create a distinctive style that remains rooted in the physical environment, even though it evokes otherworldly visions. His work is akin to the literary genre of Magical Realism, which creates a realistic view of the world while adding supernatural elements to blur the lines between spirits and humans.

Multiple: Prince Twins Seven-Seven offers a remarkable opportunity to examine the complicated, richly symbolic work of the artist, who relied on both artistic legacy and innovation. The artist’s paintings, prints, and drawings also powerfully repudiate the frequently misconceived division between the traditional and contemporary in African art. One of the unique features of this exhibition is the MFA’s holdings of early Prince Twins Seven-Seven prints in different states, which provide a special view into his working process during the first half of his career.

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