Opens April 7
Sculptor and printmaker Bruce Onobrakpeya (born 1932) is one of the fathers of African modernism and a founding member of the Zaria Art Society—an art collective that developed the natural synthesis aesthetic that came to define early postcolonial Nigerian art. “The Mask and the Cross” describes the artist’s creative phase from 1967 through 1978, during which he created numerous works marrying Nigerian tradition, folklore, and cosmology with Catholic motifs and stories from the Bible. This period was launched by the creation of a series commissioned by the Catholic Church titled Fourteen Stations of the Cross, which depicts scenes from the last earthly day of Jesus Christ. The artist portrays Biblical characters as Nigerian and reimagines Biblical scenes in Nigerian settings. Bruce Onobrakpeya: The Mask and the Cross will consider religious “double belonging” as an exercise in agency, subversion, and cultural resilience. Grounded in the High’s own edition of Onobrakpeya’s Fourteen Stations of the Cross prints, the exhibition will showcase other works from this period as well as examples from later periods, as themes of religious and cultural hybridity and multiplicity continue to reappear throughout the artist’s sixty-year career.
Top: Bruce Onobrakpeya (Nigerian, born 1932), Station VII: Jesus falls the second time (detail), 1969, linoleum block print on rice paper, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, gift of Mr. George A. Naifeh, 2006.228.7. © Bruce Onobrakpeya.