Thursday, 29 September 2011

UFUOMA ONOBRAKPEYA

Ufuoma Onobrakpeya... A Dual Identity
BY TAJUDEEN SOWOLE
(First published Sept 2007)
TWO distinct contemporary cultures, miles away, were brought under one roof recently when print maker and painter, Ufuoma Onobrakpeya, made his debut solo show.
  While the deep etching medium said to have been widely used and made popular by the artist’s father and renowned print maker, Bruce Onobrakpeya, formed parts of the exhibits at the show, other medium, lino block print and dry point print appeared to be the younger Onobrakpeya’s lead into a similar journey like his father.
  Having added a western setting to home experience while studying for his post graduate in the U.K, the artist, at this debut solo entitled, My Environment, My Culture, gave viewers the beauty of the two cultures in sharp contrasts.


  Compiled over a period of 12 years, the 30 works were showcased at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island from October 19 to 24, also included paintings and drawings. 
   HIS first love, deep etching print, naturally comes as the choice of expression, so suggests the works such as Praise Singers, a social setting and Obioma, an itinerant tailor otherwise known as 'Ejika Ni Shobu' (the shoulder is the shop) in Lagos-Yoruba parlance.
  Nostalgically, the artist pays homage to his root in the piece, Woman Returning from Farm, a capture of country setting in Agbarha Otor, Delta State.  Quite interesting, the work speaks of the immense input of the rural woman in the social and economic activities of her environment, particularly in this part of the world where women are redefining the traditions that placed them as second fiddle to the male.
  Across the sea and in just one composite, Onobrakpeya features three key traditions of old that keep adding colour to the London landscape. The exhibit, London View and finished in dry point print has the famous, Tower Bridge, the elitist black cab, the double-decker bus and the old architectural public monument, Big Ben in one print.

  STILL on those prints the artist associated with his U.K. experience, he comes up with lino block print in such work as London Transportation. Again the black cab is captured here, but close to the train station where it is dwarfed by the bigger train machine.
  What about the old Battersea Power Station in that city which is out of use for a long period and said to have now been converted to a tour attraction. Also in lino block print, this work further set out Onobrakpeya as a print artist of cross culture.
  The artist’s definition of one’s environment in a new global village transcends the birth place.  “Our environment is the entire universe and it is influenced by the culture of the people who live in it. The environment and culture interact and reinforce one another.
  “Therefore the works on display at this exhibition represent, if you like, my views about the environment in which they were created not only in Nigeria but also in the United Kingdom during my Master’s program at Camberwell College of Arts, University of the Arts London.”  


BORN in 1971 in Nigeria, Ufuoma earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art, specialising in Painting at the University of Benin in 1995. He went on to obtain a Master’s degree in Art, specialising in Printmaking from Camberwell College of Arts, London, in 2002. He is currently studying different printmaking techniques under the tutelage of his father, Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya, Nigeria’s renowned printmaker.

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