The art that is generated by the people of the African continent has proven to be as deeply intense, beautiful and complex as the diverse communities that occupy this land. African art is important and exceptional for several reasons.
Firstly, the creation of art, as well as specific styles and media are passed down from one generation to the next. For this reason, certain countries or regions within Africa have become known for a specific type of art (e.g. beadwork or wooden masks). However, each area and, indeed, each artist has a personal touch to his or her artwork.
Secondly, art has been used for hundreds of thousands of years by the African people to depict Namibia, Southern Africaevents and convey information. An excellent example is the many rock paintings in caves all over the continent. Ancient explorers, scientists and modern researchers have learnt, and continue to learn, much about the history of this continent and those that once occupied it. In fact, these paintings and / or engravings have even been used to support evolutionary theories.
Thirdly, African art is particularly meaningful and conveys such meaning in various ways. These ways include the materials used and the methods of preparing these materials. For example, shiny materials are often used in human figures to depict youthful vigour and health. If a shiny material was not available, many cultures developed ways to make their medium appear shiny, such as polishing or painting of dull rock or clay.
There are several common denominators in art from the African continent. One of these is the use of and appreciation for the human body. Many countries use the human body to portray love, life, death, political manoeuvres, contact with the spirit world, etc… Another repetitive theme is the abstractness of life. Rather than representing life or the world using real, natural forms, many African artists opt for an abstract approach. This creates an increased opportunity to convey many of the deeper meanings and implications desired. It also involves the viewer more as it encourages personal interpretation. In addition, 3-dimensional art is generally preferred and creates an interactive piece.
Finally, symmetry is seldom maintained in both paintings and sculptures. This again encourages the viewer to consider the art, as well as its intentions and possibilities.Considering African art is particularly rewarding as it provides small glimpses into the lives, traditions and customs of some of the world’s oldest cultures.