Twins Seven-Seven, The Spirits of My Reincarnation Brothers and Sisters

Ink, batik, dye, watercolor, acrylic, and oil on cloth
Credit Line
Museum purchase with funds provided by Rob and Frances Kohler, 2018
58 in. x 60 in.

This astonishingly detailed painting represents Twins’s reworking of a subject he addressed in a 1968–69 canvas of the same name. George Jevremović—owner of Material Culture, an imports retailer in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia where Twins was an artist-in-residence in the 2000s— challenged the artist to create a work as spectacular as his earlier iteration. Exceeding both men’s expectations, Twins created this version.

The title derives from Twins’s status as an abiku child, one who has strong ties to the spirit world. When an abiku child is born, the spirit world tries to reclaim him, which results in an earthly death in childhood or shortly thereafter. Twins experienced this death several times himself. According to the artist, he was born as a twin six different times to his mother, who lost all twelve of these children within their first few years of life. Only when he was born a seventh time, again as a twin, did he survive, though his twin sister would not.

In this version, the “brothers and sisters" are his brothers and sisters on this earth, not biologically related siblings, but the Nigerian people he knew who depended on him. They are depicted as musicians in a band, along with spirits. The figure in the center is Twins' self-portrait.

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