|Bruce Onobrakpeya: Artist, Innovator, and Teacher of many generations of Artists.|
Bruce Onobrakpeya would have very few rivals in innovative and experimentalist print making in our time. Not only is he a great draughtsman, master printmaker - in the professional sense of the word, he is also noted for his paintings and mixed media installation art. Since 1966, he has discovered, innovated and perfected several techniques both in printmaking and relief sculpture. In addition to his experiments in mixed media and his reputation as a book illustrator, art teacher, author and folklorist, he is also one of the pioneers of modem Nigerian art and a leading member of the Zaria Art Society (renamed by the Emir of Zaria, to The Zaria Art Ambassadors). This important and now famous Zaria group, has been credited with laying the theoretical foundations for contemporary Nigerian art, in the late 1950s. According to the critic Olu Oguibe in 1991 “Onobrakpeya has not only proved himself an artist of unassailable worth, he has also strode the expanses of internationalism, exhibiting and executing commissions all over Africa, Europe and America and several parts of the World”
Onobrakpeya is a gifted teacher and mentor of several generations of successful artists. In 1999, for instance, he initiated The Harmattan Workshop Series, with a vision to empower artists. This annual retreat and gathering for artists now in its 13th edition, has become a new Mecca for visual artists. It is the longest running non-formal education for visual artists in West Africa. The workshop has been described as lofty, noble and life transforming because it brings in artists from all over the world to share their experiences in an atmosphere of brotherhood and camaraderie. This is perhaps his greatest legacy and contribution to the contemporary arts of Africa.
Bruce Onobrakpeya is not without honour, he was jointly designated by UNESCO and the Federal government of the Republic of Nigeria with the honour of “LIVING HUMAN TREASURE” a befitting tribute to a man whose whole life has been ruled by one passion: The Celebration of the arts of our motherland, and by extension our humanity as a people.