Bruce Onobrakpeya, a foremost Nigerian modern artist, painter and sculptor, has been awarded the ‘Grand Master of Etching’ for his foresight in modern art.
The award was presented to him at a special 90th birthday celebration organised for him by the Artmiabo International Art Festival (AMIAF) organisers on Wednesday in Lagos.
Miabo Enyadike, Founder/CEO of Artmiabo, based in South Africa, said they decided to hold a festival in Lagos to celebrate Mr Onobrakpeya for his wondrous works and achievement.
“Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya turns 90 in August, but we want to be the first in Africa because they have already started celebrating Professor Bruce in the U.S.
“The entire black history month in the U.S fell in the beginning of the year, where he was celebrated, a lot of universities celebrated Professor Bruce, and he is just coming back from those celebrations.
And I thought about it, and I said, how outsiders can be celebrating our own, we’re here we haven’t. We should be celebrating Professor Bruce here in Nigeria. So, we decided that we are holding a festival to honour him.
We gave him the ‘Grand Master of Etching’ award because that is what he’s known for around the world. That is where he has his artwork, in museums all over. He has etched his work everywhere,” she said.
Artmiabo International Art Festival
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Artmiabo International Art Festival (AMIAF) will host 24 finest artists from Africa and Europe in Lagos from April 29 to May 1.
The festival features artists’ works, including Onobrakpeya, Adeola Balogun, John Onobrakpeya, Tamaraemi Larry, Olufunke Ojukwu, Segun Okewumi, Oladipupo Adesina, Yusuf Durodola, Muni King-Keazor, Adebisi, Miabo Enyadike and Yetunde Ojatula.
Mr Enyadike said: “We are also supporting his ‘Harmattan Foundation’, a residency that people come from all over the world to attend, which is his village. And so, we are supporting that with a grant.
“We need to focus on his consistency as an artist, and Professor Bruce embodies that. He has been focused, represented Africa well, and kept his calm, and all we hear about is his greatness.
“Maya Angelou, the great poet, wrote a poem on Professor Bruce, that is how big Professor Bruce is. So, we all aspire to be like Professor Bruce,” she said.
Also speaking, a veteran photographer, Muni King-Keazor, said she had known Onabrakpeya way back in the 60s.
”I have known of Professor Bruce virtually from my teenage years. Back in the 60s, his name was frequently mentioned as one of the leading artists of the time, and he has just grown in reputation worldwide.
“And it is of pride to us as a country that he remains a living legend, and I am so happy to be here today with the Art Amiabo team, celebrating him.
“We are renowned as a country for not celebrating people who make such great strides worldwide, and we tend to overlook them until maybe they are dead and gone.
“But here he is today, alive in our midst, and it is just pride for me to be present while he is being celebrated.
“For him to be recognised by Amiabo, I think it indicates how highly he is revered in our midst,” she said.
NAN reports that Mr Onobrakpeya, born Aug. 30, 1932, is a Nigerian printmaker, painter and sculptor.
He has exhibited at the Tate Modern in London, the National Museum of African Art of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and the Malmö Konsthall in Malmö, Sweden.
The National Gallery of Modern Art, Lagos, has an exhibit of colourful abstract canvases by Mr Onobrakpeya and his works can be found at the Virtual Museum of Modern Nigerian.
His first one-man exhibition was held in 1959 in Ughelli in the Niger Delta. Later, he exhibited in the U.S, Italy, Zimbabwe, Germany, Britain, and Kenya.
Mr Onobrakpeya is an essential force in the renaissance in contemporary art in Nigeria. For many years he taught at St. Gregory’s College, Lagos.