About the book
The book attempts to put Onobrakpeya’s art in context by using his early influences – his education, his evolution during Nigeria’s independence struggle and the influence of his tribal roots – as a framework for understanding his art.
What was a mere explanation for the pictures I created has now become stories in the hands of Dozie Igweze. I hope you find these stories as interesting as I have found them. I wish you a pleasant reading.
– Bruce Onobrakpeya
About Bruce Onobrakpeya
Onobrakpeya is arguably Nigeria’s most influential artist. He was an early proponent of synthesis – which was, at its core, simply a call for cultural independence and choice. A decision to contextualize Nigerian contemporary art in Nigerian cultural experiences.
He has continued to evolve over the decades as an artist, an art teacher and a focal point for Nigerian art evolution.
Why this book
I’ve sold Bruce Onobrakpeya’s artworks for quite a while and I’ve had to talk to potential collectors about his art and his ideas.
I also like to write, so I suppose it was a natural progression to go from talking about his art to writing about it.
I don’t consider myself a writer. It’s not my day job. When I told a publisher friend about this book a while back, I told her I had a little document on Onobrakpeya I might want to publish. I couldn’t quite bring myself to call it a book. It just seemed presumptuous. She read it and a few days later declared with a roll of the eyes ‘This is not a document, Dozie. This is a book and a good one too’. I hope you think it’s a good book as well.
I hope you learn something new about Onobrakpeya. The tragedy of renown sometimes is familiarity. We have enjoyed his mastery for so long that after a while we become so accustomed to the artworks that we accept them as great but we stop seeing why they are great. I hope this book starts you on a journey to examining his greatness anew.
– Dozie Igweze.
Dozie Igweze’s The Storyteller of Agbarha-Otor acquaints the uninitiated reader with what he needs to know about Onobrakpeya’s life and works. With refreshing anecdotes, Igweze deftly steers the book’s content away from the expected turgid mode. Like cinematic POV shots, the following themes guide the readers through different routes to the artist: Meetings and Conferences, Medium, Independence and Before, The Zaria Identity, Urhoboland – Myths and Legends, The Benin Empire, Adire Fantasy, Wood Stories, War and Loss and An African Jesus and Other Epiphanies.
Amidst the reference materials churned out so far on this surviving member of the defunct Zaria Art Society, The Storyteller offers a less pedantic complement. The book is an invaluable asset not just for artists, art historians, art writers, journalists, researchers, collectors and students, but also for newcomers to the visual arts sector.
- Okechukwu Uwaezuoke Art Editor, Thisday Newspaper
Take a peek inside the book, see what you think.
Click on the book below for a sample preview.