Sam Ovraiti

Painter | Nigeria

Colourist Ovraiti shows oil and acrylic paintings with heavy textures, fusing clear influences of Picasso with the colours and light of the French impressionists and his own inimitable touch. Being among the seasoned, most influential painters in Nigeria today, his works radiate a universal beauty with no need for any narrative.

“Time has come for African artist to live above the stigma and mould that have been handed down to them by pedagogical considerations based on the past. We can no longer pretend to be our fore‐fathers, we are us in the now. Our generation and our experiences in color and form, and contemporary creativity must be recorded in history.”⁠⠀



Sam Ovraitiborn in 1961 in Zaria Kaduna State, holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) and a Master of Fine Arts Degree (MFA) from Auchi Polytechnic and the University of Benin respectively and lives and runs his artist studio in Lagos. He was committed as a lecturer and was instrumental in the training of young artists in Auchi Polytechnic from 1985 – 1993. He is a deep and philosophical artist with passion in artistic research and experimentation, especially with colours and light. This aspect has been heightened by his long-term relationship with Professor Dr Bruce Onobrakpeya and the well known Harmattan Workshop, of which he currently is the artistic director.

Sam is very well recognised and influential artist in the contemporary art space in Nigeria, not only known as the most expressive watercolourist and a leading master in colours and light, but also through his regular artist talksthe Harmattan workshop and his ongoing mentoring of many artistsHis efforts in the area of watercolour and chalk pastel in the 1980’s popularized both materials as an acceptable painting medium within the art community in Nigeria and he is also very well recognized for his later oils and acrylics.  

 Sam has beenhonoured with several academic awards and national prizes. His paintings are well received all over the world and he has participated in many solo and group exhibitions in Nigeria and abroad. Last year, he was honoured with a grand retrospective solo exhibition at Alexis Gallery in Lagos and at this moment his work is featured in the National museum in Lagos.   

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Selected exhibitions


Africa Now, OpenArtExchange, Schiedam, the Netherlands

October Rain, ResilienceNational museum, Lagos


Sam Ovraiti: Retrospective of 36 years romance with the language of colours, Alexis Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria

Moremi, a view from the masters, Alexis Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria

An exhibition of masters of contemporary art, Alexis Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria


Harmattan Workshop ResultsAlexis gallery, V.I Lagos, Nigeria

Infinite TreasuresTerra culture,V.I lagos

Harmattan Workshop ResultsLagos 

Court of Arbitration complex, V.I lagos

The Bloom 1Alexis galleryV.I Lagos


Infinite Treasures 2Terra culture, V.I Lagos 


A new orderTerra culture, V.I Lagos. 




SNA Master Artist Award 2018 (equivalent to best national artist of the year) 


Nike Centre Award for Painter of the Year 

Chrisland Groups of Schools Art Legend Award


Outstanding Ambassador of the Auchi School at the 7th Auchi Arts Convention 


Auchi Polytechnic Merit Award for OUTSTANDING ALUMNI 

Guinness Top Three Award for Contemporary Artist in Nigeria 


Scholarship to Fine Art Students at Auchi Polytechnic by the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Lannon Walker

Auchi Leo Club’s Recognition of philanthropic contributions 


P.M. JAM Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi’s Award for Patron of the Year 

Jaycees Auchi’s Award for Service to the Community 


Mobil Producing Winner of National Painting Competition 

Auchi Polytechnic Rectors Certificate of Excellence for Best Graduating Student in Painting 

Auchi Polytechnic Fasuyi Price for Best Student in Painting 


79 Numerous Awards and Fine Art Prizes at Secondary School Level 

Professional activities


Currently: Artistic Director of the Harmattan Workshops 

1985 – 1993: lecturer in painting, drawing and illustration at the Federal polytechnicAuchi  

He is member of the following associations: 

  • Guild of Fine Arts, Nigeria 
  • Society of Nigerian Artists, Nigeria 
  • Colour Masters, Auchi, Nigeria 
  • Watercolour Society, Nigeria 
  • Art Rite, Nigeria 



National Gallery for Art and CraftIganmu, Lagos, Nigeria

Texaco Overseas, Lagos, Nigeria

Mobil Producing, Lagos, Nigeria

Punch Newspaper, Lagos, Nigeria

Conoco Energies, Lagos, Nigeria

Ocean Energy, Lagos, Nigeria

Guinness Nigeria plc, Lagos, Nigeria