Bruce Onobrakpeya: The Mask and the Cross
April 7–July 30, 2023
Bruce Onobrakpeya (Nigerian, born 1932), Station VII: Jesus falls the second time, 1969, linoleum block print on rice paper, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, gift of Mr. George A. Naifeh, 2006.228.7.
This is the first solo exhibition at an American museum for sculptor and printmaker Bruce Onobrakpeya (born 1932), one of the fathers of Nigerian 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 began with 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. Onobrakpeya portrays Biblical characters as Nigerian and reimagines Biblical scenes in Nigerian settings. This exhibition 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 Mask and the Cross will showcase other works from this period, as well as examples from later periods, as themes of religious hybridity and multiplicity continue to appear throughout the artist’s sixty-year career.
This exhibition is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.
Premier Exhibition Series Sponsor
Premier Exhibition Series Supporters
ACT Foundation, Inc.
Sarah and Jim Kennedy
Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot
Dr. Joan H. Weens Estate
Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporters
Robin and Hilton Howell
Ambassador Exhibition Supporters
The Antinori Foundation
The Arthur R. and Ruth D. Lautz Charitable Foundation
Elizabeth and Chris Willett
Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters
Farideh and Al Azadi
Sandra and Dan Baldwin
Mr. and Mrs. Robin E. Delmer
Marcia and John Donnell
Mrs. Peggy Foreman
Helen C. Griffith
Mrs. Fay S. Howell/The Howell Fund
Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones
Joel Knox and Joan Marmo
Dr. Joe B. Massey
Margot and Danny McCaul
The Ron and Lisa Brill Family Charitable Trust
Wade A. Rakes II & Nicholas Miller
The Fred and Rita Richman Fund
USI Insurance Services
Mrs. Harriet H. Warren
Generous support is also provided by
Alfred and Adele Davis Exhibition Endowment Fund, Anne Cox Chambers Exhibition Fund, Barbara Stewart Exhibition Fund, Dorothy Smith Hopkins Exhibition Endowment Fund, Eleanor McDonald Storza Exhibition Endowment Fund, The Fay and Barrett Howell Exhibition Fund, Forward Arts Foundation Exhibition Endowment Fund, Helen S. Lanier Endowment Fund, Isobel Anne Fraser–Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment Fund, John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Exhibition Endowment Fund, Katherine Murphy Riley Special Exhibition Endowment Fund, Margaretta Taylor Exhibition Fund, and the RJR Nabisco Exhibition Endowment Fund.