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Nsikak Essien

Nsikak Essien, the first child of the late Chief Okon U. Essien and late Madam Lucy Essien, was born on December 20, 1957 in Uyo, in the area of ​​the local government of Uyo in Akwa - Ibom State.


He had his primary education at  Wesley Primary School, Port Harcourt, and the Government Primary School, Ifa Atai from 1963 to 1969. For his secondary education, he went to Holy Family College, Abak, from 1969 to 1974. At this level, he saw excellent prospects in art as a future career.​


His creative ability and passion for art were inseparable from art and other forms of creative inclinations that run through his family's background, such as his father's highly cursive writing system or his cousins' mixed media projects. His maternal family was also known as "Nnung-Uso" (The Family of Creative People). Their creativity has been demonstrated in music, dance, oratory, storytelling, and other forms of traditional performances.


Nsikak was admitted to the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, to study Fine and Applied Arts, graduated with first-class honours, and was the best graduating student. He became an art lecturer there, employing uncanny teaching techniques like taking his students to the middle of a rowdy marketplace and telling them to draw and paint whatever they saw there, whether still or moving objects.


The Aka Circle of exhibiting artists was inaugurated in 1986 with Nsikak Essien as a pioneer member of the group. Other members included the famous international sculptor, Professor El Anatsui, and Professor Obiora Udechukwu, among others. The art exhibitions organized by the group became an extraordinary annual event to look forward to by art collectors and art lovers from all over the world. Their expectations were significantly increased by the radical experimental works that had often been presented by Nsikak Essien and his colleagues.


In 1992, Nsikak started his professional practice as a full time studio artist in Enugu, shortly after retiring from being an art lecturer at the IMT. His arrival in Lagos was good news for art patrons such as Tom Ikimi of the People's Democratic Party and the late Princess Angela Onyador of ENTA Associates, who, among others, and for many years, was one of the Aka circle's leading patrons. 


His mixed media painting took on new dimensions as he began experimenting with metalwork, stained glass, fashion design, and various mixed media forms. Some of his metal and stained glass works can be found at the site of the Diamond Bank headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria.


​Shortly before retiring as a lecturer, his life took a radical turn, as he started taking his walk with Jesus Christ way more seriously. This led to a radical change in the messages conveyed through his works. His latest exhibitions, most of which were held in Lagos at the Nike Art Gallery, were themed around the Love of God for us and its expression through Jesus Christ. His works were transformed from stories of gloom and dejection to stories of joy and hope.​


During his career, Nsikak Essien held several solo and group exhibitions in Nigeria and abroad, touching so many lives in the process.


He died on May 28, 2020 at the age of 62.

Select Exhibitions

1979 - Diversity, British Council, Enugu

1981 - Me, Myself, I. British Council, Enugu.

1986 - 2005 - Annual Exhibitions of AKA Group of Exhibiting Artists in Enugu, Lagos, Port-Harcourt, Abuja.

1990 - Guinness Art Exhibition. National Gallery of Art, Lagos.

2000 - Giant Strides. Tribes Hall Lagos.

2001 - Strides 2. AFA Center, Victoria Island, Lagos.

2002 - Aftershave, International Art Workshop/Exhibition, Motna Museum, Jos, Nigeria.

2002 - Time Art, Gallery, Lagos

2003 - African Passage Air Gallery, London.

2003 - Colors Nigeriana. Nigeria Consulate, Johannesburg, South Africa.

2004 - Stokes of Value. Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos.

2005 - Art for Peace. United Nations 60th Anniversary Exhibit, Muson, Lagos.

2005 - A Bend in the River. National Museum, Lagos.

2008 - Curator, Aresuva First African Regional Exhibition & Summit of Visual Art Organised by National Gallery of Art.

2009 - Guild of Professional Fine Artists, Terra Kulture.

2012 - Togetherness - Art Exhibition Celebrating South-South Economic Summit. Delta Convention Center, Asaba.

2012 - Love Stories. Nike Art Gallery.

2016 - Love Stories 2. Nike Art Gallery.

2017 - Love Stories, Agape. International Institute for Creative Development, Abuja.

Select Permanent Exhibits and Collections

1 / Item Title

Presidential Villa, Aguda House, Abuja

The Aso Villa Collection, Collection of the State House, Abuja

National Assembly Abuja

Central Bank of Nigeria (Headquarters), Abuja

Edo State House Abuja

Lodge of the Former External Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi

Lodge of the Chairman, MTN and Diamond Bank, Mr Pascal Dozie

Collection of Mr. Mudd Former Director, British Council, Enugu

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