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Bruce Onobrakpeya

Onobrakpeya, Bruce b 1932, Nigeria

Today this highly regarded African artist still practices and works at his studio on the outskirts of Lagos (where he has created art for over 50 years) and at his workshop in Agbara Otor, his hometown in Delta State.

This esteemed African modernist is the worthy recipient of the Nigerian National Order of Merit Award for Humanities.

In his lifetime Bruce Onobrakpeya has discovered, innovated and perfected several printmaking and relief sculpture techniques. Today he continues to work with these mediums as well as hand on what he knows to young students with the creation of his annual Harmattan Workshop. This foundation seeks to encourage the growth of art and culture by giving opportunities to artists to grow their skills while at the same time raising awareness of African art and its benefits to society.

Being a founder member of the Zaria rebels, he had a great impact on contemporary art in Nigeria and through his teachings had further influence on younger generations.

He has exhibited at the Tate Modern, the National Museum of African Art, Washington, the Malmo Konsthall in Sweden, the National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos and on home ground, the Virtual Museum of Modern Nigerian Art.

Some of his explored techniques included bronzed line relief, plastocast(resin) relief, plastograph and metal foil etching and relief print. He also painted and drew along with the print making and sculpture.

Recently he has produced serigraphs from what was called the "Sunshine period" of his development when bright colours and tropical radiance was signature to his art.


Featured here is an exhibit from an exhibition called 'Jewels of Nomadic Images' from Skoto Gallery, NY that incorporates many of his styles of art. A shrinelike installation piece it calls to Urhobo spiritual traditions and the culture of the area which is being threatened by unregulated oil drilling.

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Along with his practical art Onobrakpeya also created and developed an iconoclastic writing style which he terms Ibiebe... a script of ideographic, geometric and curvilinear glyphs which reflect his knowledge of his Urhobo heritage being rich symbols and proverbs.

All in all, he delights in the power of communication, reaching out while preserving at the same time... a truly modern man.

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