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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sterling Qualities of Prof. Stella Idiong by Bruce Onobrakpeya

Chairman’s Opening Speech
At the
Commissioning of the Art Exhibition in honour of Late Prof Stella Idiong
University of Uyo

It is an honour and privilege to be the Chairman at the commissioning of an art gallery and a commemorative exhibition in honour of late Prof. Stella Idiong here in the University of Uyo. I am particularly happy to  be part of the process of immortalizing Stella Idiong because she was one of our very own. As an alumnus of  the Harmattan Workshop, an informal educational forum, which I founded in Agbarha Otor,  Delta State, her participation and creative innovations in printmaking during several workshops she had attended, have been of great inspiration to us. Indeed this connection opened the way for my many visits to Uyo, and my claim as a son of Akwa Ibom.
Stella Idiong was a great teacher with vision, she commissioned an etching Press to be built in Lagos for Printmaking here in Uniuyo Art Department. She knew the important role that art galleries play in the education of the artists, and actually established the first gallery of Art in the University art department, where she encouraged art exhibitions.

With the commemorative Exhibition “Artforms” the function of an art gallery in a University has started to be made manifest. We can see and appreciate beautiful artworks which are not inhibited  by pressures of commercial art that Prof. Idiong, art works and those of faculty members and students  are now been showcased.
Prof.  Idiong’s art particularly the prints are timeless. Equally great  are pieces  by A. John Sampson, Dr. Anselem Nyah, Dr. Okonofua who I already know from their participation in the Harmattan workshops. Works of other members of the faculty  include Efiong Asukwo, Eyefiokio, Dr. Emoidem Udoh, Udom Bassey, Utom Obong – Ajuzie, J. Akim, Itoro Ekong and Ibrahim Bai are also  great.
The students works show great promise. I urge them to take art as a journey of discovery, adopt mentors and patrons and by so doing not even the sky will be their limit.
Unuiyo should be proud to be one of the very few Universities in Nigeria, to establish their own art gallery. I hope in the future, this gallery which is being commissioned today will be a full fledged department with its own director.
University art galleries own collections which along with changing exhibitions attract visitors from outside  the university community, thereby promoting the idea of  ” the town meeting the gown” To this effect I hereby donate my artwork titled Thanksgiving to the Stella Idiong  Art Gallery. This is in thanks to God for her life and her contributions to humanity.
Finally we are grateful to the family of late Prince Sampson Idiong and Late Princess (Professor) Stella O. Bernard Idiong for the magnanimous gift.
We pray that the legacy of Stella idiong, art teacher, Lecturer, Educationist and a distinguished fine artist, may last forever.

Bruce Onobrakpeya NNOM
29th January 2018

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Picture Coutesy Novo Isioro


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
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.