Jonathan “Mavua” Lessor was born on 26 November 1960 in Warri, Delta State, Nigeria. He had his early education in Warri, Delta State, and higher education at the Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi. In 1986, he graduated with a Higher National Diploma (HND), Upper Credit in painting, and did his National Youth Service at the Federal College of Education, Abeokuta from 1986-to 1987.
Between 1987-and 1993, Lessor engaged himself as a freelance artist. Experimenting with metals and other materials for interior and exterior decorative works. By 1993 he opened his studio and concentrated more on his specialized discipline of painting. And for fourteen years; 1993-2007 permanently exhibited and marketed his works at the Signature Art Gallery in Lagos, Abuja, and London. Lessor built a unique relationship that was cordial and rewarding with this pioneering gallery.
In 1998, Lessor had his first solo exhibition in Lagos – ’Consciousness of Form’. Well received, he was encouraged to return in 2001 with – ’Colour Amidst Squalour, an exhibition coordinated by Obias Odogwu. This too was a huge success. Since then, it has become a bi-annual affair to exhibit his works, as in 2005, 2006, 2008, he followed up with ‘Tones of Light’, ‘Art on the Rooftop’ and ‘The Stages of Time’ respectively.
2010 he comes out with ‘Bond Across’ at Terra Kulture in Lagos. This exhibition attracted much attention from the art community, fans, and collectors of art. It was another success that boosted Lessor’s standing and place in the Nigerian visual art scene. In 2011, Lessor advanced his practice beyond the shores of Nigeria to the United States of America. In a unique solo show in Montserrat in Fort Worth, Texas – “Glimpses” was staged.
“Glimpses” opened many frontiers of opportunity for Lessor in the USA for future engagements. With Glimpses also came the listing and publishing of the works of Mavua Lessor in the International Contemporary Artists, Volume iii, a yearly publication of international contemporary artists. Lessor remains the first and only Nigerian artist so listed and published to date.
2012: “Vitality in Diversity”. This show was unprecedented as over a hundred works of Mavua Lessor were exhibited. This aforementioned outing further affirms the consistency and passion of the artist for his work. As a result came local commissions, mostly private, and many international invitations for exhibitions and publications by museums and galleries in Europe and America. One of such was from Hidden Treasures Art Magazine Year Book, which was obliged by the artist. Thus, Mavua Lessor was listed and published in the 2014 edition. Published in Croydon, United Kingdom.
Worth mentioning also is the Deutsche Bank Financial Investment Perspective 2013 Dinner/ Art Salon. Here, the works of Mavua Lessor were presented and showcased to a distinguished international audience at the Eko Hotels Sky Restaurant in March 2013. Deutsche Bank is regarded as the world’s foremost corporate art collector.
In between all these, were many joint and group exhibitions, some of which are listed.