Thursday, December 7, 2017

NIGERIAN NATIONAL MERIT AWARD ACCEPTANCE SPEECH

Picture Coutesy Novo Isioro


NIGERIAN NATIONAL MERIT AWARD ACCEPTANCE SPEECH
BY
BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA ASO ROCK ( PRESIDENTIAL VILLA ABUJA7/12/2017
NNOM ACCEPTANCE SPEECH BY BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA

I thank Your Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for awarding me the Nigerian National Order of Merit.
It is a great honour and a very high point in my career as an artist. This recognition will enhance the role of the arts in the development of our nation. It will also inspire other artists to create great art works that will do the country proud.
Going back two thousand years, Nigeria had created the timeless Nok Terra Cotta sculptures. These were followed by Ife, Benin, Igbo Ukwu, Esie, and other classical arts. Indeed, Nigeria was first introduced to the outside world through these art pieces. Then came the colonial era when indigenous artworks lost their significance. We are fortunately, now at a period of artistic renaissance. I use the opportunity provided by this award to ask Mr. President to help accelerate this upward swing. First we ask for the ratification of our cultural policy to empower the artists. We need good working spaces in terms of studios and artists’ villages. The artists will be happy to receive abandoned structures in Lagos, Abuja, and other parts of the country.
We urgently need infrastructure and set-ups for modern art museums and galleries where we can showcase our best pieces as well as prevent their loss to foreign collections.
Art museums and galleries are self-sustaining and our tourism will benefit very much from them.
In addition to what will make artistic production strong and add to national economic and social benefits, we request that our President put aside some funds for informal art education through workshops. The annual Harmattan Workshop which I started at Agbarha- Otor in Delta State about twenty years ago brings in young professional artists from across the country for hands-on workshops directed by experienced artists. Such workshops empower Nigerians to live on the artworks they create; they help to develop the areas they are situated in and bring friendship and peace among different ethnic groups who participate in them. The Federal Government should encourage individuals and corporations such as the NLNG to establish prizes for artists to spur young and experienced ones to reach greater heights.
Once more I thank Mr. President for the award which I promise to hold in trust for fellow artists, other individuals, groups and establishments, all of whom have worked very hard to elevate our art to have global recognition and sharpen the consciousness of fellow Nigerians to be proud of our culture.

Thank you.

Bruce Onobrakpeya  NNMA

And Onobrakpeya wins Nigeria’s Ultimate Medal

Picture Courtesy Novo Isioro
And Onobrakpeya wins Nigeria’s Ultimate Medal
by
Sunny Awhefeada

The Nigerian National Order of Merit (NNOM) was instituted in 1979 to reward cerebral achievement. It was at inception known as the Nigerian National Merit Award (NNMA). Although the nomenclature has changed, the significance and prestige of the award remains unassailable. The biodata on the back cover of Chinua Achebe’s The Trouble with Nigeria describes the award as Nigeria’s “highest accolade for intellectual achievement”. The prize has remained so. Achebe was the first winner in 1979 and many other distinguished Nigerian intellectuals had gone on to win it. A roll call of the winners whether they are from the Humanities or the Sciences points to the reality that it is actually bestowed on Nigeria’s best. And it must be admitted that Nigeria’s best is the world’s best irrespective of the cog in the wheel of our national development and by extension our hobbled education system. Thus the NNMA, even though it is a national award, could be compared to the Nobel Prize superintended by the Swedish academy.

Some Nigerians are as title crazy as Governor Okorocha of Imo State is driven crazy by his vision! There are many contrived awards in Nigeria! From the one bestowed by the president on himself and friends in the name of national honours to the ones thrown around by tertiary institutions and shadowy organizations to whoever could pay, Nigeria brims with awards. Yet, I dare say that the only one with unimpeachable integrity is the NNOM! It is awarded annually and this year’s winner is the master artist Bruce Obomeyoma Onobrakpeya! All the winners from Achebe to Onobrakpeya will top any master class of their discipline anywhere in the world! In truth, whatever modicum of respect Nigeria has earned in the world came through the remarkable achievements of her intellectuals. If the world concedes some measure of respectability to Nigeria, it is because Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Christopher Okigbo, J.P. Clark,  Bruce Onobrakpeya and their ilk in other fields of knowledge are Nigerians.

When words filtered in that Onobrakpeya won this year’s NNOM many concluded that it was long overdue. The Delta State University, Abraka, under the vice chancellorship of Professor Victor Peretomode bestowed its highly regarded honourary doctorate on Onobrakpeya in July this year. Instead of casting the doctorate at the highest bidder, the university chose three worthy Nigerians, the Ohworode of Olomu, the Asagba of Asaba and Onobrakpeya.. The DELSU honour and the NNOM reinforce and justify each other. As university orator, the lot fell on me to do Onobrakpeya’s citation. Part of it reads:

Bruce Onobrakpeya is a living art avatar who shares the same hallowed platform with Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo in the universal configuration of artistic influence! He was in the vanguard of the “Zaria rebels” led by Uche Okeke that championed the decolonisation of African visual arts by privileging traditional influences in their practice. Much of the motif of Onobrakpeya’s art is rooted in his Urhobo tradition as he gives visual representation to ethno-philosophy, folklore, politics, environment, religion, modernity... While Urhobo tradition provides his collage, the world remains his canvas.

As a master artist in a class of his own, it didn’t take long for Onobrakpeya’s skilful hands to attract global attention. He became an Artist-in-Residence at Haystack Mountain of Art and Craft in Maine in the United States of America in 1975. He has, since then, held some of the most prestigious Art Residencies and professorships around the world, seven of which were in the United States. He also enjoyed the same rare privilege at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe which is one of the world’s most notable arts galleries.

In the course of his enchanting career as an artist, Onobrakpeya has held more than one hundred art exhibitions. The first of which took place in Ughelli in 1959. Since then his art works have been standing taller than any other at exhibitions in Lagos, New York, London, Berlin, Moscow, Warsaw, Washington, Bologna, Nairobi, Illinois, Toronto, Bradford, Holland, Zurich, Bonn, Zimbabwe, Abidjan, Dakar, Dubai, etc. I must not forget the one at the Vatican Museum in Rome in 1977. I am sure Pope Paul VI must have told God about the marvel of Onobrakpeya’s art.

In recognition of his sublime art, he has received over fifty awards, honours and prizes from all over the world. He is a winner of the Pope Paul VI Gold Medal. In 1989, the University of Ibadan, awarded him an honorary doctor of letters. He was the second person after Chinua Achebe to win the Nigeria Creativity Award in 2010. Many other prizes came from across the seas; USA, Britain, France, Iraq, Czechoslovakia, etc. The Federal Government of Nigeria conferred the Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) on him in 2002. Very significantly, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) canonised him as a Living Human Treasure in 2006! Art connoisseurs have long reached a consensus that had there been a Nobel Prize for Visual Arts, Onobrakpeya would have long won it!

Today, Onobrakpeya’s art works can be found in all the continents of the world. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Nobles, Commoners, all stand before his works in adoration! Onobrakpeya’s astonishing portfolio of achievements is reinforced by ibiebe an Urhobo alphabetic system he invented, fourteen published monographs and fourteen illustrated books. The number of theses written on his works by art cognoscenti is in the realm of the uncountable!

Before us, today, is one of the most significant artists of global resonance for all times. At eighty-five, Onobrakpeya is the youngest among today’s honourees, but he is the oldest known practising artist in Africa now. Whatever he touches becomes art. Art works immortalise the artist. So let it be with Owena Bruce Obomeyoma Onobrakpeya.


Awhefeada teaches literature at the Delta State University, Abraka.

Friday, July 28, 2017

CITATION For the Honourary Degree of Doctor of Arts (Hon. D. A) to Bruce Onobrakpeya from the Delta State University.


Birth
Bruce Obomeyoma Onobrakpeya the universally acclaimed master printmaker, painter, sculptor and poet was born at Agbarha-Otor on 30th August 1932.

Education
After attending elementary and secondary schools in Ughelli, Sapele and Benin from 1941 to 1951, he won  a Federal Government Scholarship in 1957 to the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and
Technology, (now Ahmadu Bello University), Zaria where he studied and earned a Diploma in Fine Arts in 1962 and also a Postgraduate Arts Teacher's Certificate.

Career
He began his working career in 1953 as an Arts teacher at Western Boys' High School, Benin- City. He relocated to Ondo Boys' High School in 1957. He was from 1963 to 1980 the Arts teacher at St. Gregory's College, Obalende, Lagos. 

Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya
 Bruce Onobrakpeya is a living art avatar who shares the same hallowed platform with Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo in the universal configuration of artistic influence! He was in the vanguard of the "Zaria rebels" led by Uche Okeke that championed the decolonisation of African visual arts by privileging traditional influences in their practice. Much of the motif of Onobrakpeya's art is rooted in his Urhobo tradition as he gives visual representation to e t h n o-p h i l o s o p h y, folklore, politics, environment, religion, modernity and related themes. While Urhobo tradition provides his collage, the world remains his canvas.

As a master artist in a class of his own, it didn't take long for Onobrakpeya's  skilful hands to attract global attention. He became an Artist-in- Residence at Haystack Mountain of Art and Craft
in Maine in the United States of America in 1975. He has, since then, held some of the most prestigious Art Residencies and professorship around the world, seven of which were in the United States. He also enjoyed the same rare privilege at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, and the National Gallery of
Zimbabwe which is one of the world's most notable arts galleries. He has since 1998 organised and participated, annually, in the Harmattan Workshop for artists at Agbarha-Otor. 

In the course of his enchanting career as an artist, Onobrakpeya has held more than one hundred art exhibitions. The first of which took 
place in Ughelli in 1959. Since then his art works have been standing  taller than any other at exhibitions in Lagos, New York, London, Berlin, Moscow, Warsaw, Washington, Bologna, Nairobi, Illinois, Toronto, Bradford, Holland, Zurich, Bonn, Zimbabwe, Abidjan, Dakar, Dubai, etc. I must not forget the one at the Vatican Museum in Rome in 1977. I am sure Pope Paul VI must have told God about the marvel of Onobrakpeya's art.

Honours
In recognition of his sublime art, he has received over fifty awards, honours and prizes from all over the world. He is a winner of the Pope Paul VI Gold Medal. In 1989, the University of Ibadan, awarded him an honorary doctor of letters. He was the second person after Chinua Achebe to win the Nigeria Creativity Award in 2010. Many other prizes came from across the seas; USA, Britain, France, Iraq, Czechoslovakia, etc. The Federal Government of Nigeria conferred the Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) on him in 2002. Very significantly, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) canonised him as a Living Human Treasure in 2006! Art connoisseurs have long reached a consensus that had there been a Nobel Prize for Visual Arts, Onobrakpeya would have long won it!Today, Onobrakpeya's art works can be found in all the continents of the world. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Nobles, Commoners, all stand before his works in adoration! 


Onobrakpeya' s astonishing portfolio of achievements is reinforced by ibiebe an Urhobo alphabetic system he invented, fourteen published monographs and fourteen illustrated books. The number of theses written on his works by art cognoscenti is now in the realm of the uncountable!
 

Before us today is one of the most significant artists of global resonance for all times. At eighty- five, Onobrakpeya is the youngest among today's honourees, but he is the oldest known practising artist in Africa now. Whatever he touches becomes art. Art works immortalise the artist. So let it be with Owena Bruce Obomeyoma Onobrakpeya.


Sunny Awhefeada, PhD
Public Orator,
Delta State University, Abraka.
22nd July, 2017


Saturday, July 15, 2017

BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA GETS HONORARY DOCTOR OF ARTS AWARD FROM DELTA STATE UNIVERSITY, NIGERIA.

Bruce Onobrakpeya
Bruce Onobrakpeya, a force in the Nigerian contemporary art movement, was born in 1932 in Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, Nigeria to an Urhobo carver. Onobrakpeya’s family moved to Benin City where he attended Western Boys’ High School and was introduced to art by teacher Edward Ivehivboje and by drawing classes at the British Council Art Club. Upon graduation, Onobrakpeya taught art at the Western Boys’ High School and the Ondo Boys High School.

In 1957, Onobrakpeya was granted a Federal Government Scholarship to attend the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, now the Ahmadu Bello University, where he studied fine arts and arts education. While a student, the Zaria Arts Society, later called the Zaria Rebels, was formed with the aim to “decolonize” the visual arts as taught by Europeans. Onobrakpeya states that while college taught him technical skills, the Zaria Arts Society taught him confidence in his ability to form a personal style.

Throughout the 1960s Onobrakpeya participated in artist workshops and apprenticed with sculptor Ben Enwonwu. In 1964 he became a founding member of the Society of Nigerian Artists. From the 1970s until the 1990s, Onobrakpeya was an artist-in-residence and professor at numerous institutions in the United States, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Much of Onobrakpeya’s work comprises stylistic elements and compositions rooted in traditional African sculpture and decorative arts. Onobrakpeya has no definitive style but instead specific periods of work that differ in content and media. His works range from lino cut prints, bronze, paintings, drawings and installations. The themes found in his works include folklore, Zarian landscape, Christianity, the Benin Kingdom, environmental degradation, politics, tradition, philosophy and social unrest. A testament to his skill and creativity as an artist, Onobrakpeya innovated several unique printmaking and relief sculpture techniques such as bronzed lino relief, plastocast relief, plastograph, additive plastograph, metal foil deep etching, metal foil relief print and ivorex. Furthermore, Onobrakpeya innovated and uses Ibiebe, a writing style that features invented script of ideographic geometric and curvilinear glyphs.

Onobrakpeya has taught and exhibited in the United States, Italy, Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, Kenya and Germany. In 1999 he founded the Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation which organizes the annual Harmattan Workshop Series in Agbarha-Otor, encourages creative interaction among artists and scholars and aims to increase public awareness of African art. His work is held by various collections and he is the recipient of many honors.Onobrakpeya lives and works in Nigeria.
Onobrakpeya standing before Akporode Installation

As an experimental artist he was lucky to have had an early breakthrough, through the innovation of plastography in 1967. He is also a founding member of the Zaria Art School.  His exhibitions have contributed to a large body of literature which not only placed him as a contemporary and modern artist, but also created an artistic continuum for Nigerian art after Nok, Benin, Ife and Igbo Ukwu legacies.  He has exhibited at the Vatican, the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian institution in Washington D.C., U.S.A, and London Museum to mention a few places

As an installation artist, he has pioneered, developed and emphasized installations as an art form, since the early 1990s.  His inspiration has been drawn largely from the example of traditional African shrines.  Another inspiration for his installation art is the availability of numerous discarded objects, particularly those from used computers and the automobile industry.  A good example of his installation is a work titled Akporode which was shown in 2002, at U.C.L.A. Fowler Museum.  This piece is now on permanent display at the Onobrak Museum in Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.

We at BOF Salute and Celebrate our avatar  Bruce Onobrakpeya​  for bringing an elevated consciousness of our immeasurable valuable asset of Culture. As he is being honored on the 22nd of July 2017, with an honorary Doctor of Arts Award from the Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State, Nigeria, we wish him continued and enlightened Guidance as he journeys.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

TRIBUTE TO RASHEED GBADAMOSI BY ONOBRAKPEYA

Chief Rasheed Gbadamoosi
Picture Credit:Sahara Reporters

TRIBUTE TO RASHEED GBADAMOSI

The death of Rasheed Gbadamosi came as a shock to me and to artists and art lovers for whom he had been a great patron. His passing is even more painful when we realize that another patron Sam Olagbaju was laid to rest a few weeks back.
artists and friends at Lecture at Grillo Pavilion
Rasheed did not only empower artists to grow through the purchase of their artworks, he also built the Grillo Art Pavilion in Ikorodu, near Lagos, in which works of pioneer artists including those of the Zaria Art Society were given annual exposure.
Rasheed will be greatly missed and we pray that his Legacy will last forever and immortalize his name. I wish him a peaceful rest in the bosom of the Lord. Amen


Bruce Onobrakpeya
November 24, 2016