Art & DesignHas Africa’s Art Been Lost In The Past?

Fred ShemaDecember 8, 202215020 min
Source: www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/

The future has big hands opened up wide for us to choose our paths. Funny how we still hold on to what lies behind us, and we are lost in the beauty of our ice-aged creation of art, leaving our imaginations and creativity bound to chains burdened with the servitude of preserving our past so-called culture. The wait isn’t the future part of life we must explore. But then, why are we still lurking in the undying life? Has Africa’s art been lost in the past?

African art
Source: www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/

Let’s return to the Blombos cave and the Diepkloof Eggshell engravings. Without forgetting, the Apollo 11 Cave Stones of all these have sold tickets to those ready to dive deep into these caves full of beauty. This further showcases how creative our art pieces were during that time. It proves we were smart enough to articulate reality and interpret it with the use of art. 

Chris Henshilwood announced the uncovering of a piece of ochre decorated with a delicate geometric pattern. He dated the piece conservatively at 77,000 years old; in fact, it could be as much as 100,000 years old. 

The discovery of different animal species was through these engravings. They were done with precision and care to teach our kind of what’s around us. Now we have learned, and it is time we create something that holds a glimpse of the future or even a taste of the present.

Marlene DUMAS’s (1953) portraits sell for millions of USD. Our past art has been marked as Africa’s most exclusive and beautiful masterpieces, and  we can’t deny that Africa’s art is worth what it sells for. But truth be told, even we can’t tell who Marlene is or even if we knew about the Blombos caves. 

Honestly, we learn more about  Pablos Picasso than even the president of our neighboring country. We are in the shadows, hoping to be saved by what was created centuries ago. True Indeed, it has brought us this far; our art pieces have shown the world who we are; actually, the world knows who we were in the past, and they don’t know who we are right now.

For we trailed alongside the curved artworks centuries ago, they have brought a good name for our lands and cultures, but that’s all we will ever achieve, for we love the lullabies and hymns of how beautiful these pieces are, and we can’t move past that.

Did African art influence modern art?

Well, indeed, it did. The famous Picasso and Georges Braque said they found inspiration in African art. “African masks have opened a new horizon for me” (Georges Braque). 

The profound European artists started the Cubist art movement in 1907. cubism explored the redefinition of perspectives focused on a different vantage point. Their focus was to open the mind to different ways the eyes perceive things and information. 

The birth of cubism in the early 20th century led to the advancement in literature and architecture. The geometrical patterns created inspired much more discoveries in architecture as one group took about art, and the other viewed the art in literature and better buildings. This was a significant impact created by the development of modern art.

This whole new idea development based on perspective led to advancement in the technology itself, such as the creation of Projectors and the start of filmmaking.

african art cubism
Source: https://blog.artsper.com/
Do Africans Pose Better creativity than Europeans?

European artists have embraced a sight for the future and a more excellent vision by learning from the African art style. Our African artists are bound to the slavery of surviving. Most artists from this part of the world have come from impoverished backgrounds, which has made them more aware of what they have around them and what they need to survive.

We think this awareness has made them more creative in their approach to making their artwork. The only problem is that we dwell on previous creations to survive. 

We need to be like them, Embrace our imaginations and let our creativity explore the depths of our minds, and create masterpieces that welcome the future and not push it away.

Picasso paintings
Source: https://wallpaperaccess.com/picasso-paintings
Africa has an extensive art market.

Research made by ArtTactic confirmed that 70% of experts who surveyed the success of African art in 2021 said that it is most likely to happen again.

African artists’ and creatives’ sales increased by 44.1% in 2021, going from $50.2 million to $72.4 million. With a 20.4% increase in average art prices and a 19.7% increase in the number of lots coming to the market in 2021, the outcome is the most extensive total ever for the African Modern and Contemporary art market. (Anapur). 

Sales by Region and Gender, ArtTactic Report

Sales by Region and Gender, ArtTactic Report
Source: https://www.widewalls.ch/magazine

What will happen if we sell all our past creations?

I think that’s an excellent question we should be asking ourselves and I don’t know what will happen if we don’t develop Africa’s art. But we do know one thing: it won’t be the same as it is now. 

We won’t have as many sales as we do now, for we have exhausted what we had, and everyone in the world already knows every piece.  We need to change and create masterpieces that Show the future.

What would you like to see in your future? I would like to see more and more people coming to Africa to explore our creative imaginations of the future, and I want our art to be so interesting and exciting for the entire world! 

Only if we create something new, that’s when we will be aiming for more than just art advancement but rather a continental upgrade.

There is always room for art in Africa.

There is always room for art in Africa. It is not a matter of how much space there is. It’s about the quality of the art and its relevance to our lives. The question is, how do we make it happen? How do we create a space where the arts can thrive and grow? One of the ways to do this is through community-based initiatives. 

It seems that many creative people have been left behind by globalization because they don’t have access to markets or financial resources. This means that they often cannot express their creativity in any meaningful way, so they end up recreating old pieces of art and reselling them to survive.

But if you give them a chance to be part of something bigger than just an ordinary forgotten artist. Let the artist be given the playing ground in government places and agendas of big city plans and other events. We need creative minds with imagination ready to explore the vast reality of the future and create beautiful artwork that upholds our past and embraces our future. Africa’s art is not a lost one but rather one that needs to be reborn.

You can read more articles in relation to art below.

Fred Shema

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