Saturday 6 October 2012

How Living Legends artists captured Onobrakpeya

It’s the third edition of painter Olu Ajayi-led art documentary project as 14 artists captured master printmaker Dr. Bruce Onobrakpeya’s portrait inside Aina Onabolu Building, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.

The artists involved include Ukhueduan Tom, Uche Nwosu, Isiuwe Angela, Irokanulo Emmanuel Tunde Soyinka, Maurice Onyeriodo, Nmesirionye Joshua, Juliet Ezenwa Maja-Pearce, Udondian Victoria, Okujeni Tony, Ovraiti Sam, Gerry Nnubia, Lekan Onabayo and Ajayi.

The living legends initiative started in 2007 by Ajayi, a former chairman of the Society of Nigerian Artists (SNA), Lagos State Chapter. It had its first guest in 2008 with Prof. Wole Soyinka as the first sitter documented by painters and sculptors. 

At the 2nd edition, in 2010 it was Prof. Yusuf Grillo who was the focus of the Living Legends team. Ajayi had said, “The living legends project is a contingent of professional artists and scholars dedicated to rectifying the gap in the nation’s art history profile, through the process of recording these icons on canvas and any other art media in a life study interaction exercise. 
Artists capturing Bruce Onobrakpeya inside Aina Onabolu Building National Gallery of Art, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
 “The project seeks to exploit art form as a way of immortalizing great Nigerians, events and personalities and giving them due recognition to advance the nation’s sustainable development.
  “It is an innovation in the professional use of portrait art in Nigeria. It is a special initiative for the artistic documentation of the iconic images of Nigeria’s living icons: men and women who have made profound and outstanding contributions to the important processes that have shaped and are shaping the country from one phase of development to another.” He noted that for the 3rd edition in 2012, Onobrakpeya was documented in the options of drawing, sketching and sculpture.”

At the third edition were a veteran photographer J.D. Okhai Ojeikhere, and chairman, Visual Arts Society of Nigeria (VASON), Sammy Olagbaju.

Like the second edition, which came on the same month Grillo turned 74, the third also added to the 80th birthday celebration of Onobrakpeya.

In the first and second editions, artists involved were Ajayi, Ovraiti, Edosa Ogiugo, Abiodun Olaku, Duke Asidere, Ben Osaghae, Segun Adejumo Odun Orimolade, Patrick Agose, Wallace Ejoh, Osazuwa Osagie, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, Ibe Ananaba, Kingsley Braimoh, Joshua Nmesirionye, Awoyemi Ajibade and Edward Samuel. 

At the beginning of the project, few years ago Ajayi had noted that their counterparts in the literary genres have exploited Theatre and books to document notable people in the society. The Living Legends project, he hinted, would include the input of art historians, who would research on each artist and the medium used for a particular personality.

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