TITLE OF BOOK: Forty years of Bruce Onobrakpeya in Contemporary Visual Art.
EDITORS: MUDIARE ONOBRAKPEYA AND UCHE ABALOGU
PUBLISHER: Ovuomaroro Gallery and Studio Press
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 1999
NO. OF PAGES:70
REVIEWER: DR. PAUL CHIKE DIKE, PH.D
Most publications on contemporary Nigeria Visual artists are not sufficiently detailed. Usually what happens is for catalogues about these artists to have very little information about them, or their works, instead the emphasis seems to be to have a lot of pictures included without detailed artistic statements or information about the life and work of these artist.
The book consists of three interesting sections. These are as follows:
iii. The artists resume and the Appendix.
In the introduction Mr. Ikpakronyi starts by discussing the retrospective exhibition which the catalogue is meant to accompany. Simon is of the opinion that every artist should look forward to this kind of showing of their works in their life time. Some of the Nigerian contemporary artists that have marked important anniversary celebration with exhibitions, include Ben Enwonwu, Irene Solomon Wangboje, Uche Okeke, Jimoh Akolo, Yomi Adetoro, Demas Nwoko and Bruce Onobrakpeya.
According to Mr. lkpakronyi the marking of forty years of visual practice is a new development which Bruce Onobrakpeya is one of the first to do such.
Before discussing Bruce Onobrakpeya Mr. Ikpakronyi looks at a genesis of contemporary Nigerian
Visual Art. According to him, this will help the readers to understand how the contemporary Nigerian art started, the point where Bruce Onobrakpeya started and how he has been building upon the structure he met on the ground to help him attain his present status.
He starts with the period (1900 -1950) which he put as one. The protagonist artist of this period he stated is Chief Aina Onabolu. Some of his contemporaries included Akinola Lasekan, J.A. Akeredolu .He traces how they were trained and the kind of Art they were producing.
The next period (1950-1960) include artists like Ben Enwonwu, Etso Ugbodaga Ngu, and Afi Ekong. He also states how this group had received their training in art and the types of and the types of art they were producing. However Mr. Ikpakronyi seems to lament over other artists of this period that were not given attention by art historians, writers and educationists. These include Goffrey Okolo, Albert Odunse, Eyo-Ita, Nkure F estus Idowu, Holloway, Osula, Odunbanja, Solanke, Ajidasile and Orishadepe, others are C.C. lbeto, D.L.K Nnachi, A.D. Umana, J.O. Ugoji and Uthman Ibrahim. According to him these names started when Enwonwu started and that it is unfair that most of these names are being forgotten in the Contemporary Nigerian art scene.
The artists of the third decade (l960 -1970) according to his grouping include Yusuf Grillo, late
Simon Okeke, Uche Okeke, BruceOnobrakpeya, Felix Ekeada, Oseloka Osadebe, Okechukwu
Gbonnaya, Nwagbara, late William Olaoshebikan and I.M. Omagie (woman). These he said
were members of the famous Zaria Art Society. Others who were not members of the Zaria Art society but were trained in Zaria include Jimoh Akolo , Irein S. Wangboje, T. A. Fasuyi, Isiaka Osunde etc. According to Mr. lkpakronyi, all the names mentioned above were the most popular among the contemporary Nigerian artists of the third decade.
He discussed their various activities in contemporary Nigerian art scene and said that Bruce Onobrakpeya stands unique among them, "This he said is due to the aspect of art (prints) which he chose ,developed and popularized. According to Mr. Ikpakronyi, the idea of printmaking has always been there but that Bruce Onobrakpeya has succeeded in adding new dimensions to it. New terminologies as Bronzed Lino Relief, Plastograph and Plastocast Relief are synonymous with him. Most of his works, he said have intricate designs with interesting textures that are aesthetically appealing. Printmaking and the use of traditional imageries and symbols through which he puts his stories/messages across to his audience, this, he further stated has made attain his present height and visibility in Nigerian art.
Mr. Ikpakrony has said so much about this genius and concludes thus: “Bruce Onobrakpeya is one of the most accomplished Nigerian artists, and has contributed immensely to the development of art and the image of artists through defining a new role for artists in Nigeria, Africa and the the world at large through his works. His creative power and sense of innovation especially in printmaking can hardly be attained by any artists in this millennium, thus he remains the most outstanding.”
The essays are twenty four in number and written by a select group of practicing artists, art historians, educationist, administrators, writers and collectors among whom are Prof. Ola Oloidi of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Dr. P. C. Dike, Director of the National Gallery of Art, Lagos; Prof. Osa Egonwa of the Department of Fine and Applied Art, Delta State University, Abaraka, David Dale, International Artist, Lagos, Dr. Donatus Akatakpo, lecturer Department of I Architecture, University of Lagos; Kolade Oshinowo, Artist and lecturer Department of Fine and Applied Art, Yaba College of Techno logy, Yaba, Lagos, Prof. Adepegba and Dr. Pat Oyelola of the University Ibadan, Engineer Yemisi |Shyllon of Nigerite Limited Lagos; Prof. Yomi Adetoro of the Department of Creative Arts, University of Lagos; Prof. Uche Okeke, Dr. G.G. Darah and a host of others. This is an interesting part of the book as their various essays reveals certain aspects of Bruce Onobrakpeya's life that many people do not know about.
The Artist's Resume
This has comprehensive and a full resume of artistic activities on Bruce Onobrakpeya. All that he has been doing are neatly packaged in this section. The section include the contributors list, Appendix, notes and references.
The entire information about Bruce Onobrakpeya can be meaningful if the whole text is property read.
Therefore this book is highly recommended to scholars, artist, art promoters, collectors, curators, libraries, institutions and researchers who are encouraged to acquire to acquire copy/copies.
Dr. Paul Chike
National Gallery of Art Lagos.