THE OREZE ART EXHIBITION
ROYAL PALACE ONITSHA
7th October 2012
Your Excellency, Dr. Peter Obi, the Governor of Anambra state, Your Royal Highness, Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe Agbogidi, the Obi of Onitsha, members of the Onitsha Council of Chiefs, members of the Diplomatic Corps, distinguished guests, fellow artists, ladies and gentlemen.
It is an honour and a great privilege to be the Special Guest at the opening of the Oreze Art Exhibition. I am indeed grateful to His Royal Majesty whose initiative it is to make this exhibition one of the events of the celebration of the 2013 annual Ofala Festival and subsequently to be a permanent feature of the festival.
The Ereze exhibition features 53 artists from within and outside Nigeria: 3 from Ghana, 2 from the Republic of Benin, 1 from Togo, the rest are Nigerians living in Nigeria or in the diaspora. Among the Nigerian artists we have 12 Onitsha Ado artists; the other 35 are from different parts of the country. Some notable names in the exhibition include Jerry Buhari, Wiz Kudowor, Ben Osaghae, Olisa Nwadiogbu, Edosa Oguigo, Duke Asidere, Emma Mbanefo, Abraham Uyovbisere, Dominique Zinpe, Ndidi Dike, Sam Ovraiti and Abiodun, Olaku. The exhibition is open for 3 days from today 7th, to 10th of October 2013.
I salute the participating artists whose ingenuity, hard work and dexterity created these beautiful, thought - provoking pieces on display which reflect our various world views and environment. The “Oreze”, literally translated as, the king’s crowd, as earlier mentioned, I understand is to feature annually as part of the Ofala Festival. This is a very good omen for the Visual Arts. We thank the Agbogidi for this initiative of considering artists as part of the king’s in-crowd. This is signaling a new dawn - a renaissance of royal patronage which in the past was the bedrock of our timeless art treasures envied all over the world. These works now all over the world in leading museums and in the hands of private collectors constitute a rich repertoire of our cultural values that are the bedrock of modern art practice in Nigeria and abroad.
Obi Achebe is not just a patron. He is an avid art collector determined to make Onitsha once more an important centre of the arts. I call on other Royal Fathers across the country, who are the custodians of our art and culture to take a cue and emulate this noble step by not only empowering artists in their domain by patronizing and showcasing their works, but also by erecting infrastructures for the optimum presentation of their pieces. I also use this opportunity to appeal to all levels of government to similarly build infrastructures that will promote and develop our arts. Solid investments should be made in the arts as is done in the Western world in order to reap the full benefits of an industry that is a renewable and alternative source of income.
Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to view the Oreze exhibition not only as a renewed call for Pan - Africanism in the contemporary, modern and post modern art, but also as an agent of world friendship, integration and peace. With these remarks, I declare the exhibition open to the Glory of God and service to mankind.
Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya MFR