“I use my art to comment, question and advise. The prints help me to reflect on aspects of life such as our philosophies, history, environment and conceptualizing the future. The prints help you to dream and dream very well.”
Ekpu Idolo (Money Bag), Plastograph, 106.5 x 79 cm, 2015
Bruce Onobrakpeya is one of Nigeria’s most prestigious Partistic pioneers, and presents 36 rare prints spanning his prolific career. He grew up in Delta State, Nigeria, and obtained a Diploma in Fine Arts and a Teacher’s Certificate from the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology (now called Ahmadu Bello University) in Zaria in 1962. Onobrakpeya was a pioneer member of the Zaria Art Society, a student group which sought to develop a new aesthetic language deeply rooted in African tradition and philosophy. The group included Uche Okeke, Yusuf Grillo, Demas Nwoko, Oseloka Osadebe and other students who drew strength from the post-colonial independence movement. These aspiring young artists were later called the “Zaria Rebels” and quickly made their mark internationally. “We were not rebelling against anything as such but thought that the idea of just using the western art technique without relating it to our culture wasn’t right” commented Onobrakpeya, who began to experiment with diverse media that showcased Nigeria’s rich history, culture & philosophy, environment, as well as chronicling the nation’s socio-political development through paintings, sculpture, prints, and installations.
Onobrakpeya has received many awards and his works have been exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1990, the Tate Modern in London, the National Museum of African Art of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., The Malmö Konsthall in Malmö, Sweden and The National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos to name a few. He received the UNESCO Living Human Treasures Award in 2006.
Onobrakpeya lives in Lagos and spends most days working in his studio, if not teaching art at his Harmattan Workshop retreat in his home town of Agbarha-Ottor.