20 May 2015

Africa, and her role in modern Art

Here's an interesting notion on primitive art by Jamaican artist Barbara von Enger: There is no such thing as "Primitive art" - as primitive implies a lack of skill, talent, formal training amongst other things. People like to come up with such terms so that one might feel excluded. It's a load of rubbish, really. Going further, primitive is quite a negative word in my school books. Acutally, for some people, african and all tribal art gets tagged as primitivism. Perhaps I ought to shine a new light on this term. Shall I give the word Primitivism a good wash?

We were all taught to walk - by our mothers - and we all walk naturally with ease and grace without even thinking of our first formal training. In truth, we do not recall our first/formal lesson in learning to walk or learning to chew as babies because all this is carried out subconsciously. The subconscious mind is a fairly large memory bank, and it tends to surprise even the most eminent neurologists.

This same method also applies in Art. We cannot/paint or draw without some form of formal training, some are even born with a spiritual training, even the so called "Primitives" were formally trained by their ancestors ( although some are unable to recall ). So why should one exclude this form of training?

I learnt the most important rules of art from my mother, who was also an artist, and I must confess the things she imparted I never learnt at university, for example, she told me, make your own rules as an artist, be inventive, as that comes from the gut, go beyond creative, go beyond good, as good isn't really good enough. The world is full, good artists are everywhere, like good teachers, so make sure to rest at good, and strive for excellence, be an architect of change.
Painting in picture: Oil on paper by Barbara von Enger. Image by Peter Penzel at Barbara von Enger's atelier. Copyright at Peter Penzel.

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