|The Last Supper Lino Engraving 1969|
The very idea of FESTAC in the mid 70′s, was widely condemned by many churches all through out Nigeria, as a return to fetish images, connected to curses and ancestral covenant symbols and paganism by Nigeria. In 30 years since this celebration, the mindset of many about our arts, has not altered drastically. This clearly has put a clog to the widespread appeal and appreciation for the aesthetic qualities of our art, especially the contemporary. The government has therefore approached cultural celebrations using art, as an explosive area, which has to be approached with caution, due to it’s potential for undermining political influence and support.
Bruce Onobrakpeya a modern Nigerian artist, whose artistic pieces have been widely collected in Christiandom, including by the Vatican Museum, has suffered a high casualty of having a lot of his works burnt, destroyed or at least stiffly resisted, perhaps more than any other Nigerian artist, because of cultural intolerance for new and radical African imagery, connected to the interpretation and worship of God Almighty. This has placed his works directly on the firing line of the brunt of the intolerance of our people, who are often guided by their “inspired” pastors or pious family members. The best of our art, including the modern, will continue to be seen for some time outside Nigerian shores, where they find a safe haven, devoid of any hate, and stand protected for the generality of Nigerians to enjoy their aesthetic merits.