- April 29th, 2003
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While many people are familiar with traditional African art, the world of contemporary African art is widely unrecognized. Part of the problem is the academic world’s fascination with the ancient, traditional forms of art, therefore making it difficult for modern artists’ to find a market for their work. When contemporary African art is noticed, those works tend to receive high praise and sell for high prices.
Like any group of artists, African artists are diverse crowd that create visual art totally unique to their personal vision. Even with that understanding, there are a few common artistic themes that are prevalent in contemporary African art.
The first popular theme among African artists is sculpture. Three dimensional works tend to be more widely used than two dimensional. This emphasis is actually seen throughout the history of African art. The three dimensional can also be seen in paintings and textiles. It isn’t uncommon to see a design painted onto a house where the viewer must walk around the entire work to view the total design. Textiles become three dimensional when the cloth has been woven to display ceremonial designs or are elaborately decorated. When worn, the cloth makes the wearer appear to be a living work of art. The emphasis on sculpture is one of the preferences that help make the transition from ancient to contemporary African art.
One of the most appealing themes of contemporary African art is the use of utilitarianism. This enters the art world in the creation of beautiful as well as functional pieces. Many African artists specialize in pottery, textiles, and hair adornments, all of which are made to be used in everyday life. Even eating utensils and stools are made with beauty and function in mind. Geometric patterns, bright colors, and cubism are used to enhance the appeal of these common household items. Often the items are designed with themes that are close to the African belief system, like ancestors and spiritual symbols.
A fascinating theme that is prevalent in contemporary African art is the visually abstract representation of the subjects. Instead of the more realistic techniques used by many artist of the Western world, African artists are more likely to depict their subjects in an abstract manner. Representations are often made with certain colors indicating specific characteristics and traits. The viewer is left to draw their own conclusions of the meaning and symbolism of the work. The greater effort required to really see the artwork as its creator intended adds to the experience of viewing a great work.
Contemporary African art is gradually receiving some of the attention and acclaim it deserves. Modern African artists have found a unique voice in staying true to tradition while expressing the emotions and the experience of living in the Africa of today. From civil unrest to the challenges of coping after apartheid, African artists have an unlimited source of inspiration. Due to the large number of different countries and communities on the continent, there are many different cultures to explore and contemporary African art is a beautiful way to do it.
Mr. Moyo Ogundipe has a Bachelors of Arts degree in Fine Art from the University of Ife, Ile-Ife, Nigeria and a Master of Fine Art degree in Painting from The Hoffberger School of Painting, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, USA.
One of Africa’s most celebrated and renowned traditional Nigerian artists, Mr. Ogundipe has exhibited extensively in Africa, Europe and the USA. His paintings have been described as hypnotic, colorful and densely patterned.
In 1996, Mr. Ogundipe was awarded the Pollock-Krasner Fellowship. And in 2005 he was invited to become a member of Africobra, an organization founded in the 1960s and whose membership comprises of distinguished African-American artists.
Find and buy art online from Moyo Ogundipe at www.Maigida.com.