Georgina Beier was born in London in 1936 and left Britain for Nigeria in the late 1950s. In 1963, she established and conducted the annual Mbari Mbayo painting and printmaking workshop in Oshogbo, which became an influential local arts center. Beier has worked in all media but is best known as a painter and muralist, both in Nigeria and in Papua New Guinea. Her works are characterized by simple, cartoonish compositions and a bright and cheerful colour scheme. Beier lives and works in Sydney, Australia.
Before Georgina Beier left Britain for Nigeria in the late 1950s, she studied art for two years. In the early 1960s, she moved to Ibadan, Nigeria, and in 1963 she relocated to Oshogbo, where she established and conducted the annual Mbari Mbayo painting and printmaking workshop. The workshop was located in her and her husband’s (the German scholar Ulli Beier) house in Oshogbo. After the Beier´s left Nigeria in 1966, this house would become the home of another expatriate artist in Nigeria, the Austrian painter Susanne Wengener.
Beier’s prints from those years, such as the works “Masked Rider II” and “Gelede I” (both 1966) feature bold compositions of a few figures grouped before a largely abstract and starkly patterned background, printed so that the white lines stand out against the black background. Influences from both expressionist woodcuts of the 1920s as well as traditional African imagery, such as masks, patterns, and costumes from the Yoruba culture, are brought together in a highly original manner. Beier’s mural paintings from the same period often consist of large and brightly coloured compositions of shapes and abstract figures. They appear eminently flat on the surface and sometimes have a friendly, cartoonish air about them.
In the early 1970s, Beier returned to Nigeria and settled in Ife. Later in the decade, she also conducted workshops in Papua New Guinea, where she was commissioned to execute more mural paintings, and in 1978 moved to Sydney, Australia, where she still lives today.
Beier’s skills across different media allow her to point individuals in different directions. She has produced paintings, lithographs, serigraphs, hand-screened textiles, and sculptures; has designed furniture, jewellery, mosaics and murals; and has illustrated books as well as authored a number of publications. She also founded the Pottery and Textile Museum at Obafemi Awolowo University.
Her more recent paintings indicate her continuous research into the possibilities of colouring while retaining her graphic sensibility for figures and lines. In the late 1980s, Beier created a series of small scale, multi-panel works that take full advantage of the possibilities for fine colouration of oil on hardboard. Her latest paintings, executed in enamel on board, go back to a vivid flatness that seems close to that of her murals from the 1960s. Large fields of solid colour are interlocked with abstract geometric compositions and figurative details, creating a visual vocabulary that has become fully independent of any specific style or influence.
Author: Christian Rattemeyer
Group Exhibitions (Choice)
Exhibition / Installation
"Georgina Beier and Friends“, Rebecca Hossack Gallery, London, Great Britain
"The Short Century“, House of World Cultures, Berlin, Germany
"The Short Century“, Villa Stuck, Munich, Germany
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa
(18 May 01 - 29 July 01)