His local name “Omavuayire” means ‘victory’ in the Urhobo language. But popularly known as Jonathan Mavua Lessor, art to him simply means creativity. He should know. He has been an artist for over 25 years.

“Like I keep telling people, the art is not the drawing or the painting,” Lessor said at the opening of “Vitality in Diversity”, his latest exhibition which opened in Lagos. “The expression is what you see. Art itself is abstract. That’s why you refer to the works as artworks… from these works, you can begin to see the way I think, my thought process.”


Lessor brings us interpretations of everyday life in contemporary Nigeria. With themes ranging from romance, religion to politics, the eclectic display was just as the artist described it, ‘a visual extravaganza.’


He captures the incredible bustle characteristic of Nigerian city life and the wheels of commerce on Market Days. He pays tribute to care exhibited in motherhood. He features landscapes where the bright hues of luxuriant orange-colored leaves are catchy, yet cool. His cityscapes are also prominent, often showing water peddlers and their importance.

While bright colors created a happy feeling, the messages of some of his works were reminders of socio-political upheavals. In spite of the Nigerian societal issues Lessor presents us with a powerful visual expression of the Nigerian people’s resilience. "And in the midst of these we still have to work; I have been looking at the crisis rocking Nigeria from the positive attitude perspective, and learning that despite the problems we must move

Jonathan Mavua Lessor