Just a couple of decades ago, African art was embodied for many art lovers by carved wooden masks and statuettes, rich cultural heritage, but today the continent is also famous for contemporary art, whose authors are looking for new art themes. Today, African artists are exhibited in contemporary art galleries in New York, London, Paris – but their exhibitions are not frequent in our country. “Tumo galerija” is perhaps the only one that has been purposefully trying to introduce visitors to Lithuanian exhibitions to modern, emerging African art for several years now.
“Contemporary African art is currently the most growing trend in the art market, although its exhibitions are still a rare phenomenon in Lithuania. Young African artists are taking a new path in the search for artistic themes and expression. 20th century At the end of the 20th century, the optimistic mood of the liberation era was replaced by the realities of life – social, economic and ecological problems related to demographic processes. The search for identity, which appeared in parallel with the independence movements, is also gaining momentum in the work of artists,” says collector and manager of Tumo Galerija Martynas Tinfavičius. Four years ago, he became actively interested in contemporary African art. During that time, together with his colleagues, he reviewed and analyzed the works of more than four hundred artists, communicated with half a dozen authors or their managers, and purchased the works of twenty of them. He also participated in the preparation of the first exhibition of contemporary African art in the Baltic States at the Vytautas Kasiulis Museum together with the Lithuanian National Art Museum.
The exhibition “Lovers of autumn” exhibits the works of four West African artists – different views of contemporary Africa. According to the organizers of the exhibition, these creators document the continent’s cultural and economic transformation, create an intercultural dialogue and call attention to the resurgent Africa.
The canvases of Alpha Odh (Kenya) reflect the menacing existence of the city, social criticism, and the emotional state of man. The painting of Obou Gbais (Côte d’Ivoire) takes you to the chaos of African slums and tells about the marks left by the horrors of war. Daniel Gyekyi Gyan (Ghana) focuses on the local population of Africa and moments of their social life. The plots of Joseph David Otobo’s paintings (Nigeria) are born from observing the socioeconomic situation in the immediate environment, the details of nature and their color range.
Although African contemporary art includes 54 countries, more than a billion inhabitants and two thousand different languages, it is the region of West Africa, where the artists presented in the exhibition come from, that is characterized by perhaps the greatest artistic activity, says M. Tinfavičius.
“The presented authors have a distinctive, only characteristic of them, they are characterized by different painting techniques. For example, DG Gyan’s works are extremely bright, colorful, sometimes reminiscent of three-dimensional. Mr. Gbais experienced the atrocities of war, so in his work he explores the fates of war victims. He hides his characters under the masks of Dan. Dan is an ethnic group in the mountains of West Africa, whose main art form is wooden masks,” the manager of Tumo Gallery introduces the artists.