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L'Arte africana

African art

Art: any people anywhere in the world have created their own artistic expression.

The African continent is not homogeneous, but brings together several peoples very different from each other in terms of history and culture.


The upper part of Africa has seen ancient Egypt and today countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt again.

Further south from Nigeria down to South Africa there is a mosaic of different ethnic groups and civilizations.


At the top, with the exception of ancient Egypt which has a well-known history rich in images, the other countries then suffered Islamic religious influence, which prohibits any representation of man.


In the center-south the artistic manifestations have often been called "ethnic art", "primitive art" and "black art" which, obviously, are different themes.


In full colonialism, at the end of the nineteenth century, the masks and statuettes of this part of Africa inspired Picasso, Modigliani and the painters of that time, fascinated by these creations considered primitive and without cultural conditioning of Europe.


Starting from these premises, excluding the countries that could only decorate by religion, it is difficult to find common points that can apply to all of Africa, except for two basic aspects.


The first concerns philosophy of African peoples, who could be defined as "animist", according to which the "things" that surround us have a soul that interacts with us exactly as if they were human beings. As if they were gods of ancient Greece.

Just as the "spirits", with different properties and characteristics, can also temporarily live in the human being.

This aspect is at the origin of the "masks".


The second aspect is that art was moving and was applied to all objects of common use, from fabrics, to pottery, to weapons.

Attention, in a post you can only offer food for thought, because the obligation of brevity prevents articulated arguments.


Finally, heavy Western interference has damaged African art: slavery, deportations, massacres, occupations and widespread destruction of their creations, by diligent "missionaries" for religious reasons, have lost a huge artistic capital.


The situation is far from calm and the African continent is still torn apart by wars, hunger and modern colonialism, which prevent these peoples from being able to deal with their art.


Andrea Giuseppe Fadini

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