On Sunday the 9th of June, the ArtoP research team attended a special reception and artist talk for the launch of Bruce Onobrakpeya's ENI! You Can Always Tell When The Elephant Has Passed By curated by Sandra Mbanefo Obiago of SMO Contemporary Art, at The Wheatbaker, Lagos.
The exhibition was a celebratory retrospective of sixty years of art making practice with a focus upon Bruce Onobrakpeya's prints. Bruce Onobrakpeya is known as one of Nigeria's most experimental artists and a key founding figure in the Zaria Arts Society (1958 - 1961) and the funder of the Harmattan workshops (1998 -). Amongst the prints that sat within the themes of: Natural World, Culture, Philosophy & Mythology, Christianity, Women, and Dreams - the exhibition included images that evoked political ideas whether these were presented overtly as in the case of the Chibok Girls (2017) print, his documentation of women and protest as in Nudes and Protest (2007), or more metaphorically as a commentary 'on the forced movement of people from one place to another' visible in Tive Ephrana Danure, Tive Edara? (1985) (Where do these birds come from, where are they bound?).
Bruce Onobrakpeya's work is recognized and collected world wide, found in the National Museum of African Art of the Smithsonian Institution and the Tate Modern in London, however to be able to see such a comprehensive retrospective of his work was a unique privilege. Alongside this exhibition, the expertly delivered conversation between curator Sandra Mbanefo Obiago and artist offered a very personal lens that explained the trajectories of Ononbrakpeya's diverse work, the themes and motifs that converge and his impact upon Nigerian contemporary art.