Today we concluded a series of presentations by four important African artists in my "Art and Politics in Postcolonial Africa" seminar here at Princeton this semester. First, on February 27, we had Paul Stopforth, the South African artist who mobilized figurative realism in the 1980s (anticipating Jane Alexander and William Kentridge) to lead the onslaught against the wounded, angry beast that was Apartheid, in what would eventually be called "Resistance Art" by the artist-art historian Sue Williamson. When Stopforth left South Africa on the eve of the end of Apartheid, he turned to abstraction, which was though often punctuated by dramatic passages of hyperrealism. Second, (on April 10) we hosted the Kenyan-born Wangechi Mutu, celebrated for her examination of the tenuous boundaries between the beautiful and the monstrous, between fantasy and obsession and between power and desire as they are channeled through the body of the black and African woman. Third, on April 17 came the Egyptian-born Ghada Amer whose work began first as a response to the phenomenon of (re)veiling of women in the 1980s Egypt, but has since gone on to broach questions about female agency and desire. She spoke about her well-traveled embroidered paintings of homo- and autoerotic women, and about her ambitious flower garden projects and her most recent forays into sculpture. And today (April 24), we had in class Jerry Buhari--a leading Nigerian artist and professor at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria--who with the late Gani Odutokun became the fountainhead of a reinvigorated critical painting at Zaria, in the 1980s and 1990s. His lecture focused on his meditation, through painting, on the environment and on Nigerian politics during the age of the dictatorships.
This my way of saying a big Thank You to these distinguished friends and artists for their remarkable work, and for making this seminar a most memorable one for my students!
|Paul Stopforth and Doyin Teriba (doctoral candidate, Princeton), Feb. 27, 2013|
|Wangechi Mutu speaking about her work, April 10, 2013|
|Ghada Amer speaking about her work, April 17, 2013|
|Ghada's Q/A session: seminar members, second from left: Doyin Teriba, Kristen Windmuller-Luna, Priscilla Agyapong, Adaeze Okafor, Carolina Nunez, Cornellius Metto, Mary Kolbenschlag, Rashidat Emiola, Ashley Eberhart, Niels Henriksen|
|Professor Jerry Buhari during the Q/A, April 24, 2013|
|Mary, Doyin, Ashley, Priscilla, Niels, Jerry, Carolina, Adaeze and Cornellius after seminar|