Contemporary African Art: The Dreams and Realities of Identity

Obou Gbais. La Liberte, 2022

In the latter part of the 20th century, the colonial era in Africa ended with independence wars and revolutions. Many countries declared independence in 1960, the so-called Year of Africa. The various multinational states that sprang up after decolonisation were mostly founded on a political rather than cultural basis and from then on, visual art has played an important role in the processes of societal change and the search for national identity.

 

Just a couple of decades ago, many would have considered carved wooden masks and statuettes to be the embodiment of African art, but although such traditional art has contributed a lot to popularising the cultural heritage of the continent and has had a strong influence on the development of European modernism, contemporary forms of art have now finally come out of its shadow. The younger generation of African artists has set out on the path to finding new subjects for their art and new means of expression. The optimistic atmosphere of the liberation era in the final decades of the 20th century has given way to the realities of life: social, economic and ecological issues tied to certain demographic processes. The search for identity that has emerged parallel to the independence movements is also ramping up in the works of contemporary artists.

 

Today more than ever, there is a growing interest in contemporary African art and artists from the continent are getting recognition both at home and abroad. African art is now also coming to Lithuania. The organisers of the exhibition welcome you at the first exhibition of contemporary African art in the Baltic states and present the latest generation of artists. Fifteen artists representing six countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and South Africa – are raising issues regarding identity and migration, racism and tolerance, war and peace, that are relevant in the contemporary world. They fight against the widespread stereotypes of Africa being an “uncivilised” continent and are challenging the classical Western view, while creating and telling a new narrative about Africa.

 

The curators of the exhibition have selected 30 artworks that reveal contemporary African art through three thematic sections: Sharing a Moment calls us to renounce stereotypical thinking and look for common ground, Daily Rituals tells the story of little-known African everyday life, while The True Self speaks about self-discovery, the vision of a hybrid identity and the renaissance of African identity. The exhibition is accompanied by short biographies of the most prominent artists and video footage.

 

 

Exhibition curators: Dr. Vilma Gradinskaitė, Dr. Karina Simonson

Organisers: LNMA Vytautas Kasiulis Museum of Art, Tumo gallery, Institute Museum of Ghana

1 Goštauto st, Vilnius, Lithuania
+370 5 261 6764.
kasiulio.muziejus@lndm.lt