Friday, August 7, 2009

New Book : Jewels of Nomadic Images


439 b/w and colour illustrations196 pages
ISBN: 978-2509-57-4
Binding: Soft Cover
First published: 01/June/2009

Publisher: Ovuomaroro Studio Press
Subject: African Studies
STATUS: Available


This book was originally planned as a catalogue accompanying an exhibition of a selection of artworks titled Jewels of Nomadic Images, created by the artist Bruce Onobrakpeya over a period of three decades (1978 – 2008) The pictures in the book are called Jewels not only because many of them are wearable, but also, they are attempts to capture life’s essence. They are further described as nomadic images as several of the artworks shown in the book, have gone through some kind of metamorphosis before attaining their present state. The artist takes advantage of the dynamic technique of printmaking and experimentation, to manipulate the same motif or idea to produce different design effects. Tiny line engravings have been developed and transformed into low relief sculptures called plastocasts and in some cases enlarged into bigger reliefs or paintings, and vice versa. It is this process of transformation, or migration of a design from one artistic medium, size or combination, to another, that is described as nomadic images, from which the book also gets it’s title. Features of the jewels of the nomadic Images are the aesthetic effect, various art pieces have especially when they are grouped or shown as installations. These images are at the same time, historical, cultural and innovative. The very essence of the jewels and images in the book, have been captured, in the opening chapters in essays by, Olu Amoda, the exhibition’s curator, Peju Layiwola and Ekpo Udo Udoma. Their essays give insights into a better understanding and appreciation of the works featured in the book, which is also richly and vividly illustrated with over 435 pictures, most of which are in colour. The book also gives opportunity, for the artist to explain the thoughts behind several designs, which have been profusely displayed in panels or used individually as jewelries. The final chapters, focus on a host of imaginary images, appearing singly or in groups, which were a dance series initially inspired by the novel “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts” written by Amos Tutola. A lot of the names given to the pictures speak volumes of the creator of the artworks, Urhobo-centric worldview. Atasa is the Urhobo name given for instance, to narrations of experiences, or the proclamation of ideas. Some of these concepts have been treated successfully by the artist, as figures which have been displayed or paraded in horizontal formats to reflect Urhobo calligraphy called Ibiebe. There are also pictures which show tunics made of sack cloth and leather, over which pendants and other objects are suspended. The Jewels of Nomadic Images narrates a compelling story, mostly through its richly illustrated pictures, of the immensely fertile artistic landscape of Africa, as seen through the eyes of award winning artist Bruce Onobrakpeya. He seems to be affirming too, that Africa has emerged from its colonial past, and is once again asserting its own identity.

1 Three Essays
2 Jewelry
3 Nomadic Masquerades (Installations)
4 Millennium Masks
5 Dance to Enchanting Songs
6 Atasa (Narrating Experiences)
7 Tunics of Nomadic Images

Bruce Onobrakpeya is among the most successful artists to have emerged in West Africa during the 20th century, with continuing and commanding influence on the generation of artists in Nigeria, who have come to maturity in the post colonial period. – John Picton is Professor Emeritus at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) of the University of London.

Onobrakpeya’s jewels are not just mere objects for body adornment. They are a conflation of memory and histories of all kinds – economic, social and religious. Indeed Onobrakpeya like the shinning metal foil plates that characterize his works, illuminates and reflects his society and the unending conversations between cultures – Peju Layiwola lecturer: Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos. Nigeria.

The jewels and images like other objects are charged with tiny bits of spiritual essence, when many of them, though unrelated are assembled or fused in form of mixed media, the product is a visual feast which affects the observer like magic.-- Olu Amoda, lecturer: School of Fine and Applied Art of Yaba College of Technology, Lagos Nigeria.

The artist’s ability to adopt a childlike attitude that enables him to pick up ideas and inspiration from almost anything, helps him to identify new and fascinating areas of artistic exploration very easily. This to all intent and purposes, is the success story of an artist like Bruce Onobrakpeya — Ekpo Udo Udoma is of the Visual Art Association of Nigeria.

Always eager to experiment with new things, Bruce Onobrakpeya has found inspiration in certain aspects of African traditional dress sense, particularly the necklaces of sub-Saharan Africa. – Moses Ohiomokhai is Curator of the Quintessence Gallery, Lagos, Nigeria.

1 comment:

  1. Harmattan said...

    Thank you for this most worthy contribution to the body of knowledge on contemporary Nigerian art. It is a deserving testimony to the diligence and dedication of a master artist to his calling. The sheer enormous quantity of works showcased in this volume, is to all intents and purposes very intimidating.

    Supported by good detailed photographs and a neat, although conservative, page layout the book makes for easy and enjoyable reading or browsing. There is however a small typographical error on page 36. Please take note that the caption on plate 61 is misspelled.

    The essays make good reading. While Olu Amoda captures in his essay The Chemistry of Assembled Objects, the artistic inclinations, creative reasoning’s and technical/theoretical underpinnings that confront the artist in presenting his works to a wider audience; Dr. Peju Layiwola focuses on the correlational implications of forays into the area of jewellery making in the Transformative and Cross Cultural Nature of Onobrakpeya’s Jewellery, and offers a critique of some of the pieces displayed in the book. The essay entitled Prized Images in Migrationary Media by Ekpo Udo Udoma provides some kind of philosophical approach to analyzing the artist works.

    All these essays help to provide a basic platform for the assessment of the artists style and technique, which at the same time, provides some form of documentation.

    Once more I say Congratulations!

    Fondest regards,

    Ekpo Udo Udoma


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