By Lawrence Olaoye
President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has applauded the honour conferred on Bruce Onobrakpeya, one of Nigeria’s most renowned artists, by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts in Washington DC on Friday.
In a congratulatory letter to the world-famous 82 years old sculptor, painter and print-maker who was named the Artist Honouree on the occasion of the Museum’s 50thAnniversary celebrations, President Jonathan said that Prof. Onobrakpeya’s outstanding and remarkable portfolio of works over several decades made him very worthy of the recognition by one of the most distinguished art institutions in the world.
“You are indeed a Living Treasure of Nigeria. From your first, decisive intervention as a member of the Zaria Art Society when you and your colleagues fused colonial art practice with traditional art-forms and philosophy, you have been the consummate artist.
“Indeed, there is hardly any individual more deserving of recognition at the Smithsonian’s celebration of 50 years of African art and culture. You have been a catalyst as well as a mentor and inspiration to generations of artists.
“I note that the Washington programme at which you were honoured included an event tagged, ‘Conversations: African and African American Artworks in Dialogue’. This too is apt, for you continue to be at the forefront of dialogue between artistic traditions in Nigeria and around the world.
“Closer to home, your works in the State House Art Collection have given me many moments of meaningful reflection, as I am sure they have done for many visitors to the Presidential Villa,” President Jonathan wrote to Prof. Onobrakpeya who received the UNESCO Living Human Treasure Award in 2006.
Declaring that the celebrated artist’s works have been “a high point of beauty and dignity” in the lives of Nigerians, the President prayed that Prof. Onobrakpeya will continue to ennoble the country’s cultural space for many more years.”the President noted, according to a State House statement by Reuben Abati,Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity)