ExhibitionsBruce Onobrakpeya: The Mask and the Cross
Past Exhibition

Bruce Onobrakpeya: The Mask and the Cross

April 7 – July 30, 2023

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.

Special Thanks

Special thanks for logistical and research support on this project are owed to Nicholas J. Bridger, Kavita Chellaram, Perkins Foss, Edmond Hogan, the Onobrakpeya Family, John Picton, and SMA Fathers.

This exhibition is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

Major Funding

Premier Exhibition Series Sponsor

Premier Exhibition Series Supporters

ACT Foundation, Inc.
William N. Banks, Jr.
Cousins Foundation
Burton M. Gold
Sarah and Jim Kennedy 

Benefactor Exhibition Series Supporters

Robin and Hilton Howell

Ambassador Exhibition Supporters

Mrs. Fay S. Howell/The Howell Fund
The Fred and Rita Richman Fund
Louise Sams and Jerome Grilhot
Mrs. Harriet H. Warren
Elizabeth and Chris Willett 

Contributing Exhibition Series Supporters

Farideh and Al Azadi 
Sandra and Dan Baldwin
Mr. Joseph H. Boland, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. Robin E. Delmer
Peggy Foreman
Helen C. Griffith  
Mr. and Mrs. Baxter Jones
Tamara and Kent Kelley
Joel Knox and Joan Marmo 
Margot and Danny McCaul 
Wade A. Rakes II & Nicholas Miller
USI Insurance Services

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, 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.