Prince Twins Seven-Seven changed his birth name, Olaniyi Osuntoki, to signal his status as the sole surviving child of his parents’ seven sets of twins. “They believed that I was the reincarnation of twins they had lost,” he told The Baltimore Sun in 2001.
A dancer and singer, Prince Twins Seven-Seven found his calling as an artist in the 1960s when he became part of an experimental school in the city of Oshogbo run by Ulli Beier, a German linguist who became a promoter of African culture, and his wife, Georgina.
He began drawing in pen and ink on paper, but soon began using ink and paint on large sheets of laminated plywood. His subject matter was Yoruban myths, many of them recited to him by his mother, but others absorbed through the novels of Amos Tutuola and Daniel O. Fagunwa. In a consciously naive style, he depicted village scenes, animals and deities, especially the goddess Oshun, filling in outlines and borders with jewel-colored patterns based on traditional textiles.1
1 William Grimes, The New York Times (Art & Design section, July 3, 2011)