The past decade has witnessed an influx of African artists who have diversified their mediums and styles, incorporating a wide range of materials and painting techniques, including those from western culture.
Africa is known for its rich and diverse culture, and it’s no surprise that talented and renowned artists like Wangechi Mutu have come back home, saying “the soil just feels different here.” This past decade has been nothing but the definition of power and taking back what is ours.
Let’s take photography, for instance. Initially, it served as a tool for colonialists to subjugate Africans by comparing and portraying them as primitive individuals. However, Revue Noire, a photography magazine established in 1991, changed the narrative by providing high-quality printed materials for contemporary African art.
The white man brought photography as a measure of intellect, but Africans have since turned it around and utilized it as a means to document the effects of colonialism and globalization on their different countries.
Revue Noire focused on large, informative texts that showcased artistic responses to international media and the colonialist gaze, as well as different perspectives on cultural identity in Africa. The magazine also explored the changing dynamics between Western influences and African aesthetics, and urban sites. This type of photography continues to be used by contemporary artists to communicate and visually represent the modern art world.
African sculptures on the other hand , consisted of classical masks and old furniture found in places like the British Museum. However, in the contemporary african art world, sculptures have taken a more socially conscious and environmentally friendly approach.
Contemporary African artists are increasingly embracing sustainable art practices, utilizing waste management, recycling, and upcycling techniques to create stunning sculptures and works of art that promote environmental consciousness.
One such artist is Cow Mash (Kgaogelo Mashilo), a South African artist born in Limpopo, who uses synthetic leather, synthetic wools, and various fabrics to create drawings that bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary worlds, providing insight into Sepedi culture.
Cow Mash’s use of synthetic leather enables her to document the transformation and evolution of culture from traditional to contemporary Africa, while also offering a powerful commentary on the intersection of tradition and modernity. Her work not only showcases artistic ingenuity but also serves as a reminder of the importance of sustainable practices in the art world.”
Cow Mash, like many other African artists, is no longer confined by the traditional mediums and styles used by Western culture. Instead, they have evolved to create their own unique art forms.
One movement that has gained popularity in recent years is Afrofuturism. It works to display African art as a progressive, futuristic genre that incorporates traditional African motifs and symbols, as well as science fiction elements. This movement has inspired many contemporary african artists to explore new styles and mediums, creating a unique blend of African and modern aesthetics.
One such artist is Toyin Ojih Odutola, a Nigerian-born artist known for her large-scale, pen-and-ink drawings that explore themes of identity, race, and gender. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the National Museum of African Art.Toyin Ojih Odutola’s striking pen-and-ink drawings have made a significant impact in the contemporary art world.Her art challenges traditional Western notions of what African art should be, presenting a fresh and powerful vision of contemporary African aesthetics.
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The African Renaissance is in full swing, with artists across the continent pushing boundaries and breaking free from traditional western influences. Whether through photography, sculpture, or painting, these artists are creating a new wave of contemporary African art that is fresh, diverse, and exciting. As the world begins to take notice of this cultural movement, we can only hope that it will continue to grow and inspire future generations of African artists to come.
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