Saturday, March 20, 2010

African Art Continues to Inspire Western Artists... in Finland!

Helsinki, Finland’s Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA) stages its spring exhibition “The Power of Africa: Three Perspectives” from February 24th through June 6th 2010.

The three perspectives of the title has a double meaning. It refers to the three artforms featured in the exhibition, namely sculpture, painting and mask-making, and also to the three thematic approaches taken.

The first theme is an exploration of how African art influenced early twentieth-century European Modernism. It looks at how the industrialization of Europe was seen as a decline in Western culture, and how this spurred artists to seek new beginnings beyond the confines of their home surroundings, with many venturing as far afield as Africa. From German expressionism to Russian Futurism, from Pablo Picasso to Akseli Gallen-Kal-
lela, the geometric, minimalist repertoire of African art seems to have inspired artists and genres across Europe.

The second theme presents African works as part of a coherent artistic culture, and challenges the myth of superiority in European art and rationalism. It explores the ritual elements of African art, and relates this to the church frescoes of Europe. The individuality and nuances of African art are prominently featured.

The third approach looks directly at the relationship between Finnish contemporary art and Africa. Stefan Bremer, Alvar Gullichsen and Teemu Mäki are among the many artists who have visited Villa Karo, the Finnish cultural institute in Benin, and who have drawn on African art in their work.

The large array of works on display, and the broadness of the thematic focus, make The Power of Africa: Three Perspectives well worth the visit.

For more information, visit EMMA's page on the exhibit.

Source: The Helsinki Times

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