Twins Seven Seven, born Omoba Taiwo Olaniyi Oyewale-Toyeje Oyelale Osuntoki on 3rd May 1944 – 16 June 2011 in Ogidi, Kogi State, Nigeria, was a Nigerian painter, sculptor and musician. The name by which he became known alludes to the fact that he was the only surviving child of seven sets of twins born to his mother, Nigeria having the world's highest twinning rate. He was an itinerant singer and dancer before he began his career as an artist, first attending in 1964 an Mbari Mbayo workshop conducted by Ulli Beier and Georgina Beier in Osogbo, a Yoruba town in south-western Nigeria. Twins Seven Seven went on to become one of the best known artists of the Osogbo School.
Twins Seven Seven's introduction to the arts was not through painting, but through dance at the age of 16. Part of his inspiration for dance stemming from a Yoruba custom that stated that a woman who had birthed twins should dance throughout the streets for money, so Twins Seven Seven danced on his mother's behalf.
He attended primary and secondary school, as well as briefly attending a teachers' training college for one year, and although he achieved academic success in his examinations, he detested the structure of classrooms and grew stronger interests toward art and music.
After performing a show in Oshogbo at the Mbari Club, Twins Seven Seven encountered Ulli Beier, a German editor and scholar living there at the time, who with his wife Georgina Beier ran an artist workshop. The Oshogbo school prided itself as not being a place that taught artists, but rather provided opportunities to confirm the individual vision of the different artists. At the Beier workshop, Seven Seven was given basic tools and minimal instruction throughout his artistic processes. Through this, Seven Seven was able to create his own unique style of painting.
Twins Seven Seven's work is influenced by traditional Yoruba mythology and culture, and creates a fantastic universe of humans, animals, plants and Yoruba gods. Visually, his work resembles Yoruba carvings in the segmentation, division and repetition of his compositions; conceptually, it reflects this influence in the emphasis on transformation and balance, as well as its embodiment of dualities such as the earthly and the spiritual, past and present, industry and agriculture. Early works such as Dreams of the Abiku Child (1967) make allusion to concepts or figures in Yoruba cosmology and mythology, such as the abiku (devil child), and the orisha Osun. However, Twins Seven Seven also described his work as "contemporary Yoruba traditional art", not only paying homage to the influence of his cultural background but also to noting his responsiveness to current events and the postcolonial experience.
Some of his early work was influenced by his reading a copy of Amos Tutuola's book My Life in the Bush of Ghosts that was gifted to him by Georgina Beier. However, as he progressed as an artist, Twins Seven Seven focused more on imagery based on Yoruba folklore and his own dreams.
He attempted to avoid exposing himself to other painters who could potentially influence his unique individual painting style. Upon his first visit to the United States, he refused to attend a Picasso show, stating: "No, I don't want to risk being influenced by anyone else. All I am doing is in me already. I am not going to sit down in a studio and learn to mix colors like an European painter." In 1972, Twins Seven Seven taught in the US at Merced College in California and at the Haystack Mountain Crafts School, Deer Isle.
In July 1982, he survived a car crash — although an erroneous radio announcement of his death was made after he was pulled unconscious from the wrecked vehicle — and was subsequently given an artificial hip and confined to bed for 18 months. In the 1990s his work appeared in major exhibitions in Spain, Finland, Mexico, the Netherlands, England, Germany, and the US.