Ben Enwonwu’s paintings, sculptures, and drawings became metaphors of identity, encapsulating his personal and ancestral selves in ways that turned that history into art. His art was a fusion and reflection of his multiple identities constructed in response to different political, social, cultural, and economic circumstances: (Nzegwu, Nkiru 2000)
His love of music notwithstanding, Enwonwu’s overriding concern remained how to capture the spirit/form of the dance without sacrificing content. Having discovered that rhythm and movement are crucial elements in customary life, his paintings, many of which are largely representational, explored the dynamics of motion coursing through the human muscles. ( Ijele: Art eJournal of the African World; 1, 2. [http://www.ijele.com/vol1.2/index1.2.htm]
Ogbanje: The Ghosts of Tradition is a painting about reincarnation that draws from the life of a little girl that once lived in the Enwonwu’s mother’s household.
Using clean curving lines he captured this melodic fluidity in the lead female dancer of Obitan I. The criss-crossing, interpenetrating lines that one finds in Obitan I amplify the vibrancy of the work and weave together the many disparate parts.
The Black man was performing in order to free himself from the ties of foreign domination. So his art came out forcefully in a…vein…that expresses a particular feeling of yearning for freedom. If we painted any picture it was about this freedom. (Nzegwu, Nkiru (2000). BEN ENWONWU: ART FROM A SIXTY-YEAR CAREER – A RETROSPECTIVE. Ijele: Art eJournal of the African World; 1, 2. [http://www.ijele.com/vol1.2/index1.2.htm].)
“Negritude was an expression of Blackness, a celebration of the Black image. It was a great source of artistic wealth that Senghor, who had so much in him of poetry, personified. We, the artists, more or less drank from the fruits of his knowledge. I went to my home at Onitsha and began to use some of the traditional dances — particularly the dance movements and the colors — as a basis for representation.”
— Ben Enwonwu 1989
“The essence of my own Negritude was particularly characterized in the movement of dancing figures, (African Dances , Maiden Dances  Kano Dance ), in the movement of Agbogho mmuo (1951/52, 1978), in the beauty of Black women. My Negritude is shown in Black forms because at that time in London, Black beauty was an essential and recognized image of the movement.”
–Ben Enwonwu 1989
This landscape is a departure for him, both in its subject matter and dark mood. The stormy skies and scattered cattle bones refer to the widespread death and destruction that occurred during Biafra’s war of secession from Nigeria in the late 1960s. Originally from the Biafra region, Enwonwu here expressed his personal sense of loss over his ravaged homeland. Signed by Oliver A. Enwonwu (son)
“I have focused on the Ogolo masked form that is closely related to the Agbogo mmuo and Ayolugbe mask that is traditional in Nigeria. It is part of my recent important works– comprising Adonis , Ogolo Metamorphosis (1991), Ogolo (1989), Ogolo in Motion (1989), Nne Mmuo (1987) Ogolo Emerging (1989)–that have a steady flow of thought and development.”
— Ben Enwonwu
“The spiritual realm of African art, the hierarchy of the gods, the psychic significance and the veneration, the way we can carve images in order to express our hopes and personify our desires in terms of sculpture, the mystical awareness of the carver, the spiritual world of the trees and animals, and the belief in the existence of a soul in inanimate objects-I have experienced it all” (rpt 1987, 73).
— Ben Enwonwu