Thursday, December 24, 2009

2009 Activities in Summary of Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation

The Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation

The Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation (BOF) is an artist led non-governmental organization formed in 1999. BOF's mission is to engender the growth of art and culture through the provision of opportunities for artists to improve themselves through skills acquisition and empowerment, also it seeks to promote and develop public interest in the visual arts by creating awareness for the intrinsic values of African art and its benefits to society. The Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation has been an enduring player in the visual arts scene since its inception in Nigeria. It has organized the Amos Tutuola Show, Lagos (2000), the Annual Harmattan Workshop since 1998, and participated at the Commonwealth Heads of State and Government Meeting (CHOGM) Exhibition, Abuja (2003), Art & Democracy Exhibition, Asaba, Delta State (2004), and the Harvest of the Harmattan Retreat Exhibition organized in collaboration with the Pan African University, Lagos (2004) amongst other programmes. In 2009 BOF collaborated with the Art galleries Association of Nigeria, in the 2009 Art Expo, and the National Gallery of Art organized ARESUVA

Workshop Activities


This year BOF in the month of Feb and March 2009 successfully held the 11th Annual Retreat of Arts called the Harmattan Workshop Series. This remarkable feat should be seen in the context of the fact that The Harmattan Workshop has become the longest running and most consistent annual workshop of its kind in anywhere in Africa. Consistent in the sense that it has taken place on a yearly basis since 1998 except in 2001 at Venue: the Niger Delta Cultural Centre located in Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. The retreat each year welcomes visual artists from all over the world. This year visitors and participants to this artistic retreat hit an all time high of about 1000 from all around the world.
Also for the first time in the summer month of August, between 17th – 31st August, 2009, accommodation and studio space was provided for the 2 weeks where artists could work independently or with other artists without any distraction. This summer pilot test was well received and will become an annual residency for independent artists in the summer months.

Harmattan Gallery

Activities recorded an increase at the Harmattan Workshop gallery situated in Victoria Island, More than in the previous years the gallery registered more activities as art exhibitors, collectors, art collectors, art critics and enthusiasts registered their presence there. The gallery has also made it’s mark as an important centre for viewing art, and as a platform for artistic dialog and discuss. The following exhibitions were recorded during the period.

Spirit of New Oshogbo Art: Artist Rahmon Olugunna : 9th to the 19th of July, 2009.

Exhibition by folklorist painter Rahmon Olugunna, a second generation artist of the famous Oshogbo School of Art.

Rahmon Olugunna, showed 32 vibrant works of oil on canvas in sizes as large as 42 inches x 36 inches. Despite his long apprenticeship to the painter Rufus Ogundele for several years, his recent works indicate an important and innovative departure from the Oshogbo extraordinary Experimental Workshop art style, championed by Ulli Biere in the 60’s, that has produced frontline painters like Adebisi Fabunmi, Muriano Oyelami and Twins Seven Seven amongst others.
The exhibition was opened by Prince Yemisi Shyllon, an avid collector of modern and intriguing art from Nigeria. This exhibition ran for 10 days at the Harmattan


Nurudeen Odebiyi, is a member of the famous Yaba School of Art and also an alumnus of the Harmartan Workshop retreat. He showed 34 works in various sizes, that mirror some facets of the Nigerian and 21st century West African Society. All of the works were created between 2007 to date and done on oil on canvas and acrylic media.

Nurudeen is a product of several artistic influences, the most recent being the Harmattan Workshop Experience, where he attended the artist retreat and Workshop in Delta state in 2004. This experience according to him “gave me tremendous confidence to keep working as an artist, and also expanded my facility to work in several media, and draw ideas not only from urban Nigeria, but also from the countryside.” His works also showed a distinct admiration for the painting styles of Yusuf Grillo and Ablade Glover, 2 important artistic personalities in West Africa, influences which no doubt may have seeped into his works since his painting days at the famous Yaba Art school.
Last year, he was one of the guest artists featured by the Harmattan Gallery at the 2008 Art Expo which was held at the Lagos museum.

The exhibition was opened by Barrister Taslim Animashuan, a collector of Nigerian art, who lives in Nigeria, and has known Odebiyi since his days at the Yaba Art School.

Immigraliens : By Godfrey Okorodus: 10th October – 21st October.
An exhibition of paintings and sculpture : This solo exhibition featured works by Okorodus who is a Nigerian artist based in Belguim.
His exhibition titled , Immigraliens, is coined from the word, “Immigrants” and “Aliens”, two words that accentuate the chasm between two worlds. For some reasons, according to him people move around for the purpose of work, for studies, and more specialized forms of knowledge or political asylum across borders. But for some reasons, a lot of them lack the legal means to embark on such journey and therefore devise other means, including illegal means to ensure they embark on the desperate search for greener pastures. Most often, they are regarded as illegal immigrants in the countries they move to and are usually discriminated against. So they keep moving on and on without definite destinations.
Over the years, living in Europe as an African artist, Godfrey Williams Okorodus has seen first hand the problems that immigrants encounter.
“People come to Europe for different reasons and sometimes when they get there, their aspirations are not met and so they are left in the hand of the authorities who torture them.”
Okorodus who has lived in Europe for about seven years, attempts that with his paintings and sculptured Immigraliens series, he would be able to sensitize the public both in Europe and Nigeria on the need to treat immigrants with a little bit of respect.

This exhibition later traveled to ARESUVA in Abuja, where it was seen by an International audience in the month of Dec. 2009.

Book Launch and Film Production

New Book : Jewels of Nomadic Images
First published: 01/June/2009

439 b/w and colour illustrations196 pages
ISBN: 978-2509-57-4
Binding: Soft Cover
Publisher: Ovuomaroro Studio Press
Subject: African Studies

The book 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.


Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, Nigeria 2009
Executive Producer: Bruce Onobrakpeya
Time: 22minutes
Date August 2009

This is a documentary film on the Annual Harmattan Workshop Retreat, now in it's 12th edition, takes place at the Niger Delta Centre Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, Nigeria. It captures various activities connected to the workshop, which has been described as one of the longest running workshop experiences in Africa.
The Harmattan Workshop is a forum where artists have been meeting since 1998 to learn skills, experiment, and exchange ideas for growth, particularly in the visual arts. This was initiated by Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya in Nigeria. The inspiration for its creation came from workshops he attended at Ibadan, Oshogbo and Ile-Ife directed by Ulli Beier in the 60s and early 70s, and the Haystack Mountain School of Arts and Crafts, Deer Isle, Maine, USA in 1975, under the directorship of Frank Merrit.

Over the years the Harmattan Workshop has grown to involve local and international participants, creating a network for artistic and cultural development. The documentary shows interviews with Prof. Perkins Foss, Bruce Onobrakpeya and several participants of the workshop Experience, and shows clipses of very rarely seen panoramic shots and views of the studio, workspace and workshop areas inside the Niger Delta, which was designed by noted architect Demas Nwoko, an old friend of Bruce Onobrakpeya.


BOF COLABORATED AND PARTNERED WITH SEVERAL ORGANIZATIONS, BOF collaborated with SNA, VASON, Bonhams Auction House, National Art Gallery of Art and Art House to mention but a few.

International Art Expo Nigeria 2009: Aug 22-30, 2009

The Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation, Art Galleries Association of Nigeria (AGAN) in conjunction with The National Gallery of Art, (NGA) Abuja, staged from Aug 22-30, 2009 the International Art Expo Nigeria, which was the second art fair of its kind in Nigeria. This fair took place at the National Museum Onikan, Lagos. The fair is conceptualized to be an annual event for the Visual Arts sector, and a tool for promoting Nigerian visual art market to the international market.
This year the Harmattan Gallery celebrated it’s founder Bruce onobrakpeya’s 50 year of active studio practice, by featuring the works of 2 International Nigerian artist, namely Olusegun Fayemi, an experimental photographer based in New York, and Godfrey Okorodus from Belguim. About 40 galleries across Nigeria showed artworks, with over 100 artists cutting across several generations of artists featuring works of art through the galleries. Also in participation was the West African country, Republic of Benin.

The year ended with the 2009 presentation of the Prince Claus Fund award to the Nigerian/Ghanaian artist El Anatsui at the Dutch Embassy in Victoria Island on the 18th of Dec 2009. The award was accompanied by a modest purse of 25,000 euros, a befitting tribute to an artist whose works, while in Nigeria in the last 35 years has influenced a lot of younger artists. The event was attended by several dignitaries including the chairman of BOF, Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya who celebrated this year 2009, 50years of artistic practice in Nigeria. In the words of the chairman of BOF, “El Anatsui’s work has not only impacted on several upcoming artists, but his work continues to impact on, even his peers. It is this kind of relevance and creativity that institutionally the Harmattan workshop Series strives to rekindle and replicate in the contemporary art of Africa.”

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