BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA (B. 1932)
WORKS SOLD FOR THE MOWAA RAINFOREST GALLERY AND THE NIGERIA PAVILION AT THE VENICE BIENNALE 2024
BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA (B. 1932)

Erukperu

Details
BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA (B. 1932)
Erukperu
incised with the artist's signature and date (lower right); incised with the title (lower left)
copper foil relief on board
79 1⁄8 x 26 ¾in. (201.1 x 68cm.)
Executed in 1978
Provenance
Private Collection, Nigeria (acquired directly from the artist).
Donated by a Private Collector to MOWAA, Nigeria.
Literature
B. Onobrakpeya, Symbols of Ancestral Groves, p. 251 (another version illustrated, p. 67).
Sale room notice
Please note that this work is incised with the artist's signature and dated ‘BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA 1976’ (lower right); incised with title ‘ERUKPERU’ (lower left)

Brought to you by

Anna Touzin
Anna Touzin Specialist, Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

‘African art, whether it is abstract, semi-abstract, spatial, looking about, looking outside of the present and going into the future and going backwards, it is a type of story.’

– BRUCE ONOBRAKPEYA

Christie’s and the Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) in Nigeria are collaborating to raise funds for MOWAA and its initiatives to create a cultural ecosystem in Benin City, based on the art of the past, present and future. A number of artists have generously agreed to donate original works of art to the auction, including Yinka Shonibare, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Lakwena Maciver and Victor Ehikhamenor. Proceeds from the sale of the works will go towards MOWAA initiatives including the presentation of the Nigeria Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, 2024—commissioned by the Governor of Edo State and also curated by Aindrea Emelife—and the 20-acre Creative Campus, including the Rainforest Gallery. Designed by the Dakar-based architecture firm Worofila, the Rainforest Gallery will be dedicated to showcasing Modern and Contemporary art, as well as historic exhibitions.

Regarded as one of the fathers of Nigerian modernism, Bruce Obomeyoma Onobrakpeya is a printmaker, painter and sculptor. Born in Agbarha-Otor, Delta State, in 1932, his family moved to Benin City, Edo State, when he was a child. His father was an Urhobo carver, and Onobrakpeya witnessed his rendering of shapes, patterns and symbols out of wood and metal from a young age. As a student at the Nigerian College of Arts, Science and Technology, he became a member of the Zaria Arts Society, led by Uche Okeke. These artists rebelled against the European focus of their schooling, seeking to integrate elements of indigenous Nigerian culture into their work. Over the course of his practice, Onobrakpeya fused ideas drawn from Western art with elements relating to his Urhobo heritage, Igbo uli drawings and numerous other traditions. His works are celebrated for their elongated figures, off-kilter perspectives and evocations of the supernatural through ambiguous symbolism.

Onobrakpeya’s first one-man exhibition was held in 1959 in Ughelli in the Niger Delta. He has since exhibited internationally, including at the Tate Modern in London, the National Museum of African Art of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and received an Honourable Mention at the Venice Biennale in 2011. 2023 saw his first American institutional solo exhibition at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta. He also founded the Bruce Onobrakpeya Foundation, which organises an annual workshop in Agbara Otor, Delta State. Inspired by his own experience of attending the famous Oshogbo workshops during the 1960s and 1970s, the foundation aims to encourage artists at all levels to develop and expand their practices.

More from Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sale

View All
View All