“Anybody can look at a pretty girl and see a pretty girl. An artist can look at a pretty girl and see the old woman she will become. A better artist can look at an old woman and see the pretty girl that she used to be. But a great artist-a master-and that is what Auguste Rodin was-can look at an old woman, portray her exactly as she is…and force the viewer to see the pretty girl she used to be…and more than that, he can make anyone with the sensitivity of an armadillo, or even you, see that this lovely young girl is still alive, not old and ugly at all, but simply prisoned inside her ruined body. He can make you feel the quiet, endless tragedy that there was never a girl born who ever grew older than eighteen in her heart…no matter what the merciless hours have done to her. Look at her, Ben. Growing old doesn’t matter to you and me; we were never meant to be admired-but it does to them.”
Robert A. Heinlein
For all of you who have been reading my posts must be witnessing the fact that I have started to write a lot of my blogs starting it off with a quote by some famous person. It’s just that sometimes i want to say something; i have this vague idea but somehow fail to describe it by using words. Happens to the best of us right? Well anyway then I come across people who explain what I wanted to say with such grace and I want to share their incredible words with you people too. Sharing is caring.
Art has always been thought of as the hippy field. Place only casts out people go to make peace with their delusional selves; it’s for people who are not good at white collar jobs. This entire notion is so far from the truth. Art is a complete universe in its self, and the artist’s work very hard to put their passion into words, paintings or artwork. To me writing is an art, while to others maybe poetry or mold sculptures is their definition of art. Art has various forms.
“Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.”
Frankly my post is not only about but the art in Africa. African art is a term that is typically used for the art of the Sub-Saharan Africa. The content of it revolves around people, civilizations, societies and traditional African art each with its own unique visual culture. The art of Africa does not specifically include the art from the North African regions which are along the Mediterranean coast. These areas had been a part of other traditions since a long time. For more than a century, the art of these areas had been a part of the Islamic art, with many particular characteristics. The art of Ethiopia has Christian markings and it is also very different from the other parts of Africa, where the traditional African religion was Dominant.
The human figure has always been the center of African art. It is the artists’ prime subject. This part also influenced many European traditions. In the 15th century The Sapi culture in West Africa near the Ivory Coast was popular in creating elaborate ivory saltcellars that were a mixture of African and European designs. The Portugese traded these with the people. The Human figure can symbolize a variety of beings ranging from a dancer, chefs, hunters, drummers all the way to the ones buried in graves. Many of the sculptures were a depiction of their gods.
The artists in Africa tend to favour the visual abstraction a more naturalistic representation. This is due to the fact that most artworks generalize stylistic norms. The artists also put a lot of emphasis on three dimensional structures rather than the two dimensional works. It may sound very bizarre but many African cloth works and paintings were also meant to be experienced in a three dimensional way. The paintings in the houses of the natives are seen as a continuous design which is wrapped around the house, making the viewer to walk about and experience it with full comprehension. The decorated clothes are actually worn as ceremonial garments, transforming the person who wears it into a live sculpture. The African art depicts animation, a readiness to keep on moving.
The African art itself it a made out of numerous materials. Jewelry is a very common art form that is used to indicate, affiliation with a group, rank or purely for aesthetics. The jewelry is a combination of a variety of materials such as ceramic, sisal, Tiger’s eye stone, beads, ebony wood and hematite. The sculptures maybe made out of wood, carved out of stone or of ceramic. The Shona sculptures are very popular and are carved out of stones. Various kinds of textiles are made, the list consist of kente cloth, mud cloth and chitenge etc. Mosaics created out of coloured sands and butterfly wings are popular in West Africa.
“Any fool can be happy. It takes a man with real heart to make beauty out of the stuff that makes us weep.”
Clive Barker, Days of Magic, Nights of War.
Slowly but steadily the contemporary art culture of Africa is making its way to the top. Many notable modern artists include William Kentridge, El Anatsui, Yinka Shonibare, Karel Net and Zerihun Yetmgeta. The art biennials take place in cities such as Johannesburg, Dakar and Senegal.
Most of Africa falls under the third world radar and so art is not given much attention when people are finding it difficult to feed their children. Art is thought to be for the rich. Whatsoever the situation is, the beauty of African art cannot be undermined.
I strongly feel if african art and artists are given support by the International art organisations it can do much better than many infamous artists and art groups around the globe!
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