Sunday, January 7, 2024

A Prayer for Settlement



May the Divine guide travelers on unknown paths and grant them  peaceful settlement

A daily walk with Bruce Onobrakpeya: Day 8 

Even in times of forced change and uncertainty, we are never alone. The strength and wisdom of our ancestors and the enduring stability of nature guide and protect us. This connection offers hope and resilience, reminding us that in the transient journey of life, we carry forward the legacy of the past and the promise of safe passage, regardless of the challenges we face."

Picture Credit: Onobrakpeya  Travelers shows . the image of people on the move, carrying their essential belongings on their heads and shoulders, powerfully symbolizing the reality of forced migration, a global issue affecting millions. It evokes the struggle of leaving familiar environments, where generations have lived, due to unforeseen circumstances, be they natural disasters or human conflicts. This scene is not only a stark reminder of the transience and uncertainty of life but also serves as a poignant prayer for protection and safety over all those compelled to undertake such journeys. It underscores the profound truth that stability can be fleeting, and today's settled individuals might find themselves as travelers tomorrow. This visual and narrative representation captures the essence of vulnerability, resilience, and the unceasing hope for a safer future amidst the trials of forced displacement.

Friday, January 5, 2024

May the True Gains of our Work Never be dispersed

Nigerian Proverb (Urhobo)

Atete Gwre Ighoro-o

A daily walk with Bruce Onobrakpeya: Day 6

This expression which  roughly translates to "May the Hawking tray always return with its owner at the end of the day" can be understood as a prayer or a wish for both success and safety. The "Hawking tray" in this context symbolizes the means or tools one uses to earn a living, akin to a hawker's tray full of goods for sale. The phrase "always return with its owner" underscores the dual hope that the individual not only achieves success (represented by the tray being full of the day's profits and gains) but also returns safely home at the end of the day. This proverb, therefore, encompasses a comprehensive blessing – that one's daily efforts lead to fruitful gains and that these are safely brought back home, ensuring both economic well-being and personal safety. On a reflective note the expression may also be an invocation and prayer to God, for the Gift of a life well spent, crowned with attributes like Wealth, Peace of mind, Prosperity and a Great legacy in life

Picture Credit: Onobrakpeya. In Atete Gwre Ighoro-o, Onobrakpeya depicts two poles supporting a third bar to form an entrance gate to a village.  Suspended from the cross-bar is the "Atete" (straw-tray) which contains prayers and blessings tied to its middle.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The Leopard In a random walk in the Cornfield

Nigerian Proverb in Pidgin English

One Man meat, na another Person Poison

 A daily walk with Bruce Onobrakpeya: Day 4 

Though the forest might seem daunting and mysterious to many, it's a sanctuary to the leopard. This metaphor underlines the profound truth that what may be challenging and unfamiliar to some can be a haven of comfort and familiarity to others. It highlights the rich tapestry of diverse experiences and viewpoints that different individuals or groups possess. Furthermore, it serves as a call for unity, inviting people from all walks of life to embrace and learn from each other's unique perspectives."

Picture Credit: Leopard In the Cornfield by Bruce Onobrakpeya, 1966

Tuesday, October 17, 2023


 The highly anticipated Muson Festival is set to captivate art enthusiasts from October 22nd to 29th, offering a breathtaking showcase of artistic brilliance. This year's festival promises to be nothing short of extraordinary, featuring a remarkable collection of works by the celebrated Bruce Onobrakpeya, spanning various forms of media. 

Among the highlights of this artistic extravaganza are the enchanting lyrical prints by the avant-garde artist, Folahan Olumide. These pieces promise to challenge conventional artistic boundaries and inspire creativity.

Moreover, the festival embraces the theme of "Resilience" with a curated selection of traditional art pieces. These works will reflect the enduring spirit of artists throughout history, embodying their ability to overcome adversity and emerge stronger, more vibrant, and creatively invigorated.

In total, the Muson Festival will proudly display around 30 exquisite pieces, each a testament to the power of art to inspire, provoke thought, and transcend barriers. Don't miss this opportunity to immerse yourself in a world of artistic wonder and celebrate the enduring legacy of these remarkable artists. Join us from October 22nd to 29th for an unforgettable journey into the heart of creativity and resilience.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023


 "The Mask and the Cross" are artworks created by Bruce Onobrakpeya, set in the final days of colonial Nigeria and shortly after its independence. These works offer a unique African perspective, delving into the underlying teachings, principles, and lessons derived from the life of Christ and the Resurrection of Christ.

The artist refers to these pieces as "New Masks" because they represent his endeavor to reconstruct and re-imagine artworks using ideas from old masks, many of which were discarded and burnt by early Christian missionaries. 
The New Masks by Onobrakpeya retain the aesthetic potency of the original masks, now manifested in various media such as paintings, plastocasts, low relief sculptures, and other techniques that he has developed and  innovated throughout his nearly 65-year artistic career.

These artworks are infused with the same esoteric meanings, conveying a narrative that transcends geographical and chronological boundaries, making them accessible to people of any culture. 

"The Mask and the Cross" serve as narratives that reinterpret the universal essence of goodness by focusing on the core values that should foster a deeper understanding of the Christian message. In these artworks, Jesus Christ and other religious figures are depicted as universal symbols, emphasizing the essence of Christianity rather than being bound by the geographical and anatomical contexts of the Jewish and Roman people.
2nd June 2023

The Solo exhibition by Onobrakpeya  which was extremely well received at the prestigious High Museum in Atlanta, came  to a close, at the end of July. "The Mask and the Cross" is now billed to travel to The Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C., in the second quarter of 2024 and the National Museum of Montreal, Canada and Vatican Museum shortly after.

3rd Sept 2023
Mudiare Onobrakpeya

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Seasonal Greetings

Nativity (Mother and Child), Metal Etching, Bruce Onobrakpeya,1996

Seasonal Greetings

Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation
41 Oloje Street, Papa Ajao,
Mushin, Lagos, Nigeria

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Tribute to Frank Chukwuma Okonta by Onobrakpeya

Chief Frank Chukwuma Okonta

I visited Chief Frank Chukwuma Okonta in his country home in Ibusa, Delta State a few years ago with Kunle Adeyemi, during one of the editions of the Harmattan workshop. I was immediately struck by the serenity of his home where he demonstrated his love for nature through his garden and palatial space, he also had quite a collection of art which he fondly displayed hanging on many walls of his home. Chief Okonta came across as an endearing gentleman with a lot of warmth in his heart. He spoke flawless Hausa, had gone to school in the north and now lived in Lagos.
Okonta was a seasoned administrator given his background as a past director in the Ministry of Information, Secretary General of the Nigerian Olympic Committee, chairman Nigerian Boxing Committee and President of Nigerian Cycling Association. He clearly was a gentleman that understood the inner workings of the Nigerian government, based on his varied and accumulated experience in government service.
Over time he also collected art wherever he travelled to, all over Nigeria and very widely abroad. This collection crystallized in his founding the Nkem gallery, where his collection could be viewed. He also became like Gbadamosi and Olagbaju, a great admirer of Nigerian art, and often could be seen encouraging budding and mature artists by attending and visiting exhibitions and shows very frequently. Okonta visited my show Onobrakpeya and the Harmattan Experiment, at Kadjinol station during  Dakar 2012 Biennale in Senegal.
But by far his greatest and most significant achievement will be helping to found and later becoming the pioneer President of the Art galleries Association on Nigeria (AGAN). AGAN was the umbrella organization for gallery owners all over the country. AGAN also has to its credit staging the historic art Expo which brought together in an Art fair setting many galleries in Nigeria and West Africa to Lagos.
His legacy will have to be helping to raise awareness of the generality of people about the greatness of Nigerian art, through first his acquisition of a personal collection of art, then owning and operating the Nkem gallery in Lagos, and later organizing the epoch making Art Expo, which was a historic and cultural landmark event, Art Expo brought several galleries together to celebrate Nigerian art and once again reestablish Lagos as a notable art epicenter in West Africa.
Frank Okonta loved great traditional and modern music, and in fact was also an avid fan of Fela, he also loved fine dinning and great gourmet, and civil community and society, but above all he was a connoisseur of Nigerian modern art, who had passion to showcase the magic of Nigerian art.
He will be greatly missed by the creative industry where he laboured greatly to show our, elegance and nobility as a people through the fine arts.
Bruce Onobrakpeya