9th Annual National Black Fine Arts Show
FEBRUARY 03 – FEBRUARY 06, 2006
CHARITY PREVIEW, FEBRUARY 1
SCHOMBURG CENTER FOR RESEARCH IN BLACK CULTURE, NEW YORK
EDUCATIONAL SERIES, FEBRUARY 3 – 6
THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN DIASPORA ART, NEW YORK
PRIVATE OPENING RECEPTION
FEBRUARY 03, 6 – 10 PM
Last weekend, the prestigious ninth Annual National Black Fine Art Show held at the Puck Building in Soho was a tremendous success.
The only art fair of its kind, the show successfully hosted 38 selected exhibitors representing the best African-American, African and Caribbean contemporary art. While the rare works of old masters like Romare Bearden (1912-1988), Raymond Steth (1916-1997), Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller (1877-1968) and Bob Thompson (1937-1966) were on display, the show also included distinguished work by young artists.
The strongest and by far the best work in the show was from an African contemporary artist named Nya′, showcased by Colours Fine Arts, Inc, a private gallery owned by the revered art collector, Asake Bomani-Glover.
Among the four-enthralling works on display from the African contemporary artist, the two that deserve special mention are “Mburuchusi” and “Kaptives of Inheritance.” The latter is a diptych, (120 x 24 in., 1997) portraying two massive slave ships made from coarse materials that include discarded metal, bark from a baobab tree, broken glass, sackcloth, cowrie shells, steel nails and animal dung.
The figures representing the slaves are made of red and black clay collected from African countries that were directly impacted by the slave trade, namely Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gambia, Togo, Congo, Benin, Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia and Nigeria. The grief-stricken figures stripped of dignity and value and therefore identical in shape, size and form are covered in animal blood and clothed in sackcloth with ashes smeared on their foreheads.
According to the artist’s catalog notes, the gigantic double-headed mask-like figure at the center of the ship adorned with motifs from various parts of Africa represent the unborn statesmen, entrepreneurs, scholars and inventors that perished in the treacherous waters as the ship made its malevolent voyage.
Old coins of gold, bronze and silver from the aforementioned countries and other African states like South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Malawi arrayed at the back of the ship, in etched holes that resemble a wooden mancala board from West Africa represent the wealth and resources plundered from the continent.
Cynical phrases like “proud Barclays Bank,” “Lloyds TSB under-writers for the slave ships,” “hedge funds,” “sovereign funds,” “blood diamonds,” etc... allude to the western businesses that benefited directly and otherwise from looted African resources are crudely inscribed and subtly noticeable in this gripping work. However, the grim ship carrying enslaved people from Africa to Europe is juxtaposed with another ship of identical size going back to Africa. The ship is conceived of similar materials, but aboard are five perfectly rendered rings plated in rich Ashanti gold.
According to the artist, the five gold rings primarily represent God’s immeasurable Grace now covering the continent while the wooden figures foiled in gold within the rings represent a myriad of vision-driven Africans coming from and going to the continent to “work” or to subdue, replenish and transform the continent with the authority of THE BLESSING of the Lord.
The paintings were accompanied by an illustrated brochure with comprehensive notes from the African contemporary artist’s extensive diary that explained his metaphorical use of material in the diptych that took two years to complete.
Seed Gallery Press