Have you ever visited any souk and was absorbed by the rich colors and intricacies of the African artifacts? Did you feel they are waiting to tell you a story of their own?
If you’re an art lover, chances are you’ve already explored the rich and diverse culture of Africa. As Ron (Maulana) Karenga sums up, in African art, the object is not as important as the soul force behind the creation of the object.
And it is this soul force that attracts us to African art. A mixture of different tribes, each having their unique characteristics is what gives character to the art, which finds expression in various forms. Woodcarvings, brass, sculpture, paintings, pottery, leather and ceremonial headgear – the objects of expression are many. And they never fail to amaze us.
As modern technologies change the way we look at the world around us, artists are adopting new technologies to keep the culture alive. Be it social media, apps, websites or online platforms – the Internet is democratizing artistic conversations today.
Most artists today have a digital footprint, in the form of an Instagram account where they share pictures of their art or Facebook where they contact art curators to push out their work.
For example, Nkechi Bakare, who runs her Instagram account Art News Africa out of Lagos has accumulated more than 86,000 followers since she started in 2014. According to her, every day she gets at least one message from artists asking her to review and post their work on her account.
Another artist from Ghana, Serge Attukwei Clottey got a chance to study in Brazil after posting his art on his Instagram account. Internet also connected him to one of his future collectors based out of US.
These are not one-off stories. Online platforms like art magazines, online galleries and research websites are increasingly facilitating the promotion of African contemporary artists. Smartphones, tablets and satellite TV have also played a major role in bringing African art to the world.
While contemporary art finds expression in technology, art curators are also going lengths to the heritage. Old video footage of artistic work and music are being converted from analog to digital format – all in an effort to preserve the legacy. Curators are finding new ways to digitize the history of artworks, archives, and texts of scholarship to ensure legacy thrives in the era of technology.
To sum it all, in a continent where Internet penetration is extremely low and artists fight electricity blackouts and poor infrastructure to reach to collectors and gallerists across the world – digitization proves that art is indeed immortal.