Coffee & Uche Okeke Episode 6: Conversation with guest, Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya

Published 19 September 2023 in Conversations

Uche Okeke Legacy Editorial

In the realm of art, stories unfold beyond the canvas—stories of friendship, collaboration, and the timeless resonance of cultural philosophy. Join us as we delve into the intriguing interview with Salma Uche Okeke, Tamzin Lovell and Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya unravelling the captivating narrative of his artistic journey alongside Uche Okeke, the Zaria Arts Society, and the enduring legacy of Natural Synthesis.


A Canvas of Friendship

The interview begins by unveiling the deeply rooted friendship between Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya and Uche Okeke. Born out of shared experiences at the Nigerian College of Art, Science, and Technology, their connection transcended mere camaraderie, blossoming into a profound collaboration that would leave an indelible mark on Nigerian art.


The Birth of Zaria Arts Society

As Nigeria gained independence in 1960, the socio-political landscape was charged with change. The Zaria Arts Society emerged as a response to this dynamic period, a collaborative movement seeking to intertwine cultural roots with modern influences. This artistic fellowship, of which Bruce and Uche were integral parts, would go on to redefine the artistic narrative in Nigeria.


Philosophy of Natural Synthesis

Central to the conversation is the philosophy of Natural Synthesis—a unique blend of traditional elements and external influences. Bruce and Salma shed light on how this philosophy shaped not only their artistic evolution but also became a guiding force in cultural preservation, identity formation, and the evolution of traditions.


Relevance Transcending Time

The interview passionately underscores the continued relevance of Natural Synthesis in contemporary times. It explores how the philosophy has influenced artistic practices, cultural preservation, and interdisciplinary collaborations, serving as a bridge connecting artists across generations and geographical boundaries.


Education Initiatives and Beyond

Beyond the canvas, Bruce Onobrakpeya's post-retirement initiatives take the philosophy of Natural Synthesis to the grassroots. His endeavours aim to make art education accessible to those excluded from formal settings, fostering inclusivity in artistic expression and contributing to the preservation of cultural heritage.


Interpreting Stories Beyond the Brush

Bruce shares how Natural Synthesis aids in interpreting and presenting stories, even those as profound as the Christian narrative, within the context of Nigerian and African cultures. The philosophy becomes a tool for bridging cultural narratives and presenting them in a way that resonates with the audience.


Essence of Legacy

The interview concludes with a poignant reflection on Uche Okeke's legacy. Both Bruce and Salma share messages that encapsulate the essence of Uche Okeke's impact and the enduring influence of their collaborations. The legacy stands as a testament to the philosophy's ability to transcend time, fostering creativity, cultural preservation, and artistic innovation.


As we close the chapter on this captivating interview, the resonance of Natural Synthesis lingers—an ode to friendship, culture, and the harmonious blend of tradition and innovation in the world of art. The stories woven through this dialogue serve as an inspiration, inviting artists and enthusiasts alike to explore the boundless possibilities that unfold when creativity meets philosophy. The canvas of art is not just a visual spectacle; it is a living testament to the beauty of collaboration, the strength of cultural identity, and the enduring power of Natural Synthesis.





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