Africa has been well known across the world as the hub for authenticity, pride, culture and also inspiration and life. Over the years Africa has birthed great art and magic from its music, fashion, culture and views. In this particular article I want to take you on a journey of some of the most interesting and controversial art pieces that Africa has displayed to the world about views such as religion, love, culture, morals, family and status. Our voice as Africans ,despite colonization and wars across different races and countries, has never been shut off or shut down because we are too bold enough to ‘beat around the bush’ and at that expense the world is interested to hear.
Now before I go too far with this let me introduce you to our (as South Africans) first amazing art piece. Sarah Baaitman was one of the first jewels that was first viewed by the public. Sarah is a Khosian woman who was found in the hills and villages of Gamtoos River which is now known as Eastern Cape, and was exploited because of her oversized behind and breasts. Sarah was classified as a ‘freak’ because unlike other cultures and races her behind stood up and out. Until now Sarah is seen as the embodiment of what an African woman should be or rather is. In our contemporary society that we live in now, Baaitman is glorified for her figure because of the sexual connotation attached to having a big behind. A few people would still be very offended at the way she was exploited and exposed not realising that there are lot of Sarah Baaitman’s out there in the world, just not through slavery but the media.
One of South Africa’s most controversial and constantly rebuked artist is Ayanda Mabulu. He was born and breed in the urban town of Soweto where he found a platform to showcase his artwork about his thoughts on the economy, his country and also women and dynasty. There are a number of art pieces that he has released to the public that are labelled controversial and provocative, the most recent being of President Jacob Zuma and Nelson Mandela sitting in a very disturbing manner metaphorically stating that ‘Zuma is single handling raping the country’ he mentioned in an interview saying that ‘Nelson Mandela in the painting is me, is you he represents everyone, and we can’t allow Zuma to do this to us’, however, today I want to discuss one of his older pieces. I’m unsure as to the name of this art piece so I’ll call it ‘Past Goals’.
This art piece as clearly seen is set around the slavery times where black people were made slaves to the white people. In the painting Mabulu shows how the ‘maid’ or helper, some would call it, is baby sitting and cater for the white masters baby after, what looks like, a brutal beating, while her children die and are abducted by the white lady. This art piece ,like many, was a hit but not as much as Mabulu’s work after this, when politics became he’s main inspiration and muse for voicing his problems and issues with the system. Ayanda’s artwork has empowered and given artists across Africa a chance to be free with and about their art.
Duro_arts is an artist who is well known for his controversial art which was published across social media. This artist is originally from Nigeria and has turned to art to speak his mind concerning black women and how they are disrespected through materialistic things. Duro_arts protests about the vulgar use of black women in music videos and tackles the issue of blesser and sugar daddies that swept the world in the late 2015. Duro sends out a message about black women being victims of materialistic objects such as luxurious cars ,as seen in the painting of a woman giving blow jobs to two men with their gentiles symbolized as flashy car keys. The topics connected to this piece of art is from the social media take over which has desensitized women from selling/ Giving their bodies to men for the ‘best’ lifestyle.
The ‘blesser’ scandal started when jobless women started posting about their uptown luxurious lifestyles and boasting about the men in their lives who had financially given them the pleasure to enjoy life without working. This in return gave women the “green card” (don’t judge me lol) to sell their bodies and inevitably their lives to men who have a lot of money, for money/ a good lifestyle — thank you reality tv
AFRICAN RENASSIANCE MONUMENT
Now unlike the other art pieces I’m unsure who created this beautiful piece, however I do know that it was done by a North Korean Company. This strong powerful piece was criticized by artists across the world and Senegal not because of the powerful message it emulates but rather the cost of it and how it’s affecting the economy of the country. This sculpture is moving and very strong its currently the biggest Statue in the whole of Africa, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Critics say that the amount of money used for this project is not generated to come back to the country, stating that the heads of the country are neglecting their responsibilities of the economy and its people as leaders.
Apparently according to some of the monuments critics the figured sculptured through this huge brass statue are ‘too comical’ to represent black African natives. Now according to me this is ridiculous, so what makes an African body. Yes previously I did mention Sarah Baaitman but not everyone is shaped like that, so what should be the best thing to show that these figures are African? facial features! I read that the same critics think that the facial structures are not even African (rolls eye). Now I personally think this art piece is just being criticised cause we, as Africans can be a little scared of being perceived wrongly, as we have in the past, but when something as great and magnificent as this has been placed on our land is about us, for a change, we should appreciate and acknowledge it, no matter who created it.
‘I dwell on issues that a lot of artists will choose not to address . . . I talk about corruption and commercial sex work. Kenyan society is one that loves to bury its head in the sand’
Michael Soi is a Kenyan artist who is recognised for his very open yet comical paintings. As mentioned in his quote up above he has found his voice in talking about corruption and sex amongst the black community. Here in this painting he portrays the measure in which woman are being violated by the system they have been ‘loyal’ to. Soi also has a view about how the Chinese are infatuated with black African woman and their spontaneous sexual ways, true? I’m not sure.
So those are some of the controversial art pieces I love and have found interest in. I hope you have enjoyed them but trust that I will find more and exciting things to show and explore with you…Also remember that your African, I’m African we are African and our voice is our freedom.