Return of the Mask

MODERN AFRICAN MASKS ARE CONNECTING TRADITION WITH THE FUTURE

Core Africans how integral traditional masks are to the cultural history and heritage.

AFRICAN MASKS BY TRUDY JOHNSON

AFRICAN MASKS BY TRUDY JOHNSON

Masks are one of the elements of great African art that have most evidently influenced Europe and Western art in general; in the 20th century, artistic movements such as cubismfauvism and expressionism have often taken inspiration from the vast and diverse heritage of African masks. In most traditional African cultures, the person who wears a ritual mask conceptually loses his human identity and turns into the deity represented by the mask that is being worn. The function of an African mask is to represent the spirits of ancestors or to control the forces of good and evil.

A range of African artists have been transforming the African mask with new foci; well known for that is Benin’s Romuald Hazoumé. His work often revolves around the 'Jerry Can', a plastic container widely used to transport oil in his home country. In his stead is Ghana’s Serge Attukwei Clottey. His use of discarded materials like re-purposed metal scraps, old lights and gears, and woven fabrics is meant to draw attention to the environmental and social impacts these articles have. Also there is Zak whose art emphasize literal messages; one of his most recent sculptures is painted in the colors of the American flag and has arms raised in the “Hands up, don’t shoot” pose of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The appeal of masks is gaining momentum through traditional practices spanning the diaspora on many continents; while this falls in the midst of the much gained recognition of black people and Africans both home and in the diaspora; it is still a brilliant step to cultural preservation and worldwide involvement in appreciation of African culture.

Below is a gallery of the nine masks created by international and local artists:

CYRUS KABIRU

DJYNO JACQUES

BANANA