In 2006, I had a chance of attending the 7th Dak’Art Biennial of African Contemporary Art and it has remained memorable. As the General Curator, Yacouba Konate, an art critic and lecturer at the University of Abidjan-Cocody in Cote d’Ivoire pointed out that there were abstract and figurative, popular and conceptual pieces that were made by artists drawn from “at least three generations.”
The biennial was dominated by installations and new media art that showed our artists’ ingenious ways to play around with objects to develop impressive pieces. They explored various thematic concerns and interrogated new and old notions of Africa in a way that both persuasive and deep. I was impressed by numerous pieces that were both political and social.
I was smitten by the various pieces by one of Nigeria’s most prolific veteran artist called Bruce Onobrakpeya and they still remain fresh 6-years later. It is said that when the history of art in Nigeria is written, it would be incomplete if Bruce was not included and rightfully so. He fists came into the limelight in 1965 when the Duke of Edinburgh collected his work at the Commonwealth Exhibition of Art in Cardiff and London. Since then, his works have appeared in several collections notable amongst them are the Aso Rock in Abuja, the Vatican collection in Rome, the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington among other places.
He has been practicing for over 45-years and if the numerous pieces that he had selected for the Dak’Art are anything to go by, then there is no doubt that the old man like good wine is getting better with age.
The pieces were awesome and I was particularly head over heels in love with his piece called Ariel Landscape. Made from various computer CPU parts, the piece leaves you with no doubt as to what you may be looking. An aril view of a well planned city and you can actually pick out where the industrial area is located, the residential estates, skyscrapers and others.
His other pieces selected for Dak’Art 2006 included Totems of the Delta, Environmental Regeneration and Scavenging in a Lost Paradise.
I hope you find them interesting too.