Gani Odutokun was a contemporary Nigerian painter who is known for his contributions and nurturing of artists in the Zaria art society. His works include wall murals, paintings and book cover designs.
Odutokun was born in Nsawan, Ghana to Nigerian parents of Yoruba ethnicity who were originally from Offa, Kwara State and who were in the cocoa trade. He spent his early childhood growing up in Ashanti region but his father later relocated to Nigeria after a slump in the Cocoa trade. After secondary school, he worked as a clerk with Nigerian Breweries but with prodding from friends who saw his talent, he applied and got admission to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1972. He graduated from the college with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Fine Arts in 1975 and 1979. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree, he joined the Fine Arts department of ABU as a graduate assistant.
Odutokun’s artworks are known for exploring the fragmentary nature of life. His paintings tend to explore philosophical concepts about “accident and design,” fragments and the “unbalanced balance equilibrium”,some of his works also tries to challenge Western expectations of African Art. At times, Odutokun included political commentary in his works. In 1988, his painting, The King Shares a Joke with his Generals, alludes to the pretentious ideals of liberalism the Babangida.
Odutokun died while returning from an Exhibition which followed a workshop held at the Goethe Institute in Lagos. He was among four artists who died in a vehicular accident. In June 1995, Time No Boundaries, an Exhibition with paintings from dozens of artists from Northern Nigeria region was held at the Maison de France, Alfred Rewane road in Odutokun’s honour. In 2008, a memorial art exhibition by the Nigerian Gallery of Art in honor of Odutokun’s paintings was held at the Aina Onabolu complex of the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.