Review of “A Revisit to Sunshine Period 1960-1970”

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Excerpts of Review by Vicki Roosevelt

Until several years ago, my idea and images of much of African Art and culture were based upon girlhood books, many visits to the New York City Museum of Natural History, and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was familiar with the ancient– masks, carvings and sculpture, textiles, musical instruments, weapons, household items, ceremonial clothing, jewelry, cave paintings, etc., etc. I knew of animals and myths– wonderful stories– some history and culture– and geography. I was/ am more familiar with the music of Africa– both ancient and modern. I, however, knew nothing about the modern art of Africa. I still know very little. I appreciate and react to this art with my gut, my heart, and my brain– not with any real knowledge or training as a critic. In my case, it is all about senses, impressions and feeling– not at all academic.

I first learned of Bruce Onobrakpeya about three and a half years ago from a good friend who has been a lover of African Art — both ancient and modern for well over fifty years. I was really drawn to much of what I saw in his collection of prints, statues, textiles, and artifacts.  I  particularly loved the Onobrakpeya prints that he has. A year or two ago we attended a show in New York City in honor of the artist’s 80 th birthday. There I saw even more of Onobrakpeya’s work– more modern than that which I had seen before– and I was equally drawn to it.

This explains a bit about why I was so thrilled to receive a copy of A Revisit To The Sunshine Period 1960 – 1970. The book of Serigraphs introduced me to a very colorful and light filled period of the artist’s work that I had not seen before. Upon first glancing at the book I was as drawn to the color and light — and the few places of shadow –as I was to the images. Each time I study each of the Serigraphs I see something new — within the overall images there are many layers and subtleties– which makes studying each print fun and rewarding. So many of the colors are wonderfully warm and inviting– the greens, the reds, yellows, and blues– even the white in Ubido– one of many favorites. The light and use of color seem to create movement in some of prints–like the Three Elephant Masquerades (another favorite). The image and light and shade in the Sugar cane Truck Pushers makes you feel the toil of these men. You can almost hear them groaning as they push the truck. Along with Ubido, I think the prints I love the most are Leopard in the Cornfield lV– we feel the corn swaying and the leopard’s expression makes us think he is seeking his next meal. Cows in Sunshine is also terrific– you feel the warmth of the day through the cows squinting from the light. The colors and feel of Scarecrow ll is also terrific– as are the figures and their adornment in Two Faces ll. If I was told that I had to pick only two Serigraphs as favorites– I would have a difficult time– but upon reflection, I think they would be Hunter’s Secret — because of the extraordinary use of color and the subtle figures and their expressions. The second would be Man and Two Wives ll. It is quite different from the others in the collection– it is more still. What stands out most about this print– aside from the beautiful color and dress of the three figures — is the sense of pride and dignity — as well as love and serenity that one feels in and among the subjects.

These comments and impressions do not really do the artist or his work justice– but I hope they may motivate others that do not know Bruce Onobrakpeya’s work to seek it out. Only good is to be gained by doing so. Enjoy.

– Vicki Roosevelt

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Letter to Chibok Girls by Bruce Onobrakpeya

Letter Chibok girls

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The Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation

This gallery contains 4 photos.

The Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation is both the artist’s and the aspiring artist’s residential artistic enlightenment retreat. Set in Agbarha-Otor in Delta State, in the Niger delta area of Nigeria, it is a place to relax, to explore, to seek, to find…

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100 years of Modern Nigerian Art

The visual art is the first thing that placed Nigeria on the world map. Contemporary Nigerian art has been growing in importance and recognition, to the extent, that it has moved from shelves to galleries and museums where they are placed side by side with the best that is being created from elsewhere in the world today. Our works of art are important enough for people to live with from day to day, they are sought after as significant collector items fetching super prices in auctions and galleries. Our art has thus not only elevated us as a people, it has also now become a reliable source of earning stream in the economy.

Bruce Onobrakpeya

2014

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Presentation by Bruce Onobrakpeya

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Tribute to Alhaji Fabunmi by Bruce Onobrakpeya

Mr Fabunmi

TRIBUTE TO CHIEF GAFAR OLUYEMI FABUNMI

As we continue in the year-long celebration of the Nigerian centenary, our thoughts go to great Nigerians who made her stand as one great, undivided country for a hundred years.  Also we look at those things that must be put in place for her continued existence as one country.  Clearly one such idea is good leadership.

Alhaji, Chief Gafar Oluyemi Fabunmi, died an octogenarian. He was a people’s man, generous in spirit and imbued with leadership qualities.

An engineer by profession, he contributed his quota to Nigeria’s development by participating actively in the construction of roads and bridges across the country.  For instance, he was part of the construction team which built the Ethiope and Jemisson River bridges near Sapele in the Delta State, and as a detribalized Nigerian he built bridges which cemented the different ethnic groups together.  In recognition of these leadership qualities, he was honoured with a number of chieftaincy titles.  He was the Lukotun Musulimi of Egbaland, the Ekerin Adinni of Owu muslims, the Otun Ashiwaju Adinni of Nawar Udeen Society of Nigeria and the Oganla of Papa Ajao, Lagos.

Alhaji, Chief Fabunmi was the Chairman of Oloje street Residents Association from the time it was started 39 years ago to a few months before his death less than one year ago. His tenure ushered in progress for residents.

Before he passed on, he asked to be replaced as the chairman of the association.  This we granted believing the request was due to his increased responsibilities imposed on him by his many roles as a religious as well as a community leader.  He duly handed over to Chief Awesu who was both the assistant Chairman and the treasurer of the association.  Little did we know that the handover request was to create leadership continuity as he soon departed to join his ancestors.

Alhaji Fabunmi chose to live in Oloje Street although he had the capability to live in more elitist part of Lagos.  His choice gave him the opportunity to display his skills as a community leader of an environmentally challenged part of Lagos.  Oloje Street used to be a quiet residential area like a GRA.  But since the location of Ladipo motor spare parts market in the precincts and the opening of Oshodi / Apapa expressway, Oloje street and its environs lost the serenity that was once associated with them.

All these made Fabunmi to lead several delegations to the Lagos State Governor as well as to Mushin Local Government for government intervention.  Beyond these challenges, Fabunmi would not only bring residents together for yearly celebrations or during demise of resident members or their families.  He accompanied me to Delta twice.  First to Oghara in Agbarha-Otor during my father’s burial and then to Aravwarien in Ughelli North Local Government for my mother-in-law’s burial.  All these and more endeared him to everyone.

To Chief Fabunmi, I say adieu.

Bruce Onobrakpeya

Papa Ajao, Lagos

October 1, 2014.

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Calabash design by Bruce Onobrakpeya

Bruce Onobrakpeya calabash inspired desigh

Bruce Onobrakpeya calabash inspired design

It is the Yoruba of Nigeria who pay the tribute written and translated below

Bi Onirese ko fin igba mo

eyi ti o tin fin ko le parun.

If Onirese refuses to do more calabash decorations those he has done can never perish

The tribute is also apt in Bruce Onobrakpeya’s case even though he remains tireless in his artistic search

Cornelius O. Adepegba

1984

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