By Nii B. Andrews.

In my view, the answer to the question is, no –  based on the preponderance of evidence from the authentic African tradition.

Intuitively, the idea that any human activity occurs in a manner completely divorced from other aspects of life is inaccurate and ill informed.

If we do not accept this, then we run the risk of arcane abstraction, and mumbo-jumbo.

BOGGA SHOW: Kwadwo Ani, acrylic on canvas, 152 x 94 cm, 2005. Signed and dated left lower corner. Private collection, purchased from the artist.

Art, in order to be understood and appreciated by a critical mass of our people, ought to be explained within the context of the traditions, culture and the contemporary intellectual and emotional life of the society.

It also helps if it is interpreted in the light of existential problems and contemporary issues.

Such an approach enables art writing to be easily readable/ reader friendly even for those who are not necessarily interested in art, but have a lively interest in contemporary issues.

UNTITLED: Dele Sawyerr, acrylic on canvas, 121 x 97 cm, 2011. Signed left lower corner. Private collection, purchased from the artist.

This is a critical task on account of the current levels of despondency and literacy in our society – a society that appears to have lost its way and is floundering and belching on almost all fronts.

We hit new and previously unthinkable lows every day; from the menacingly ridiculous to inaneness all laced with dollops of ignorance and dishonesty.

Con men…..and women abound; to call them reptiles or weasels will be giving what are real ecological assets a bad name.

Navel gazing now appears pandemic within the corridors of power.

ODJO-BO (CON CLOTH): Frederick Oko-Matey, discarded rosewood and paint, 60× 83 cm, 2018. Courtesy of the artist.

The situation in Accra in particular, pushes you to reprise the rapper, Melle Mel on Grandmaster Flash’s The Message; the metropolis is “like a jungle, sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under (uh-huh, uh-huh, huh huh)… Broken glass everywhere, people pissin’ on the stairs you know they just don’t care.”

But our best artists and relevant writers, continue to engage in true prophecy; they “foretell” and “forth-tell”.

They unveil the truth, justice and mercy of Providence against the naked hypocrisy and oppression stacked up and plainly visible in our deeply flawed society.

Living room detail featuring a painting by Max Boadi.

Consistent, measured and accessible analytic writing about our art might encourage a significant number of us to reject the myopic partisan lenses or misplaced reticence through which almost everything is viewed and encourage us to confront our numerous national challenges in an objective, systematic and patriotic manner.

That is why we do not do art for art’s sake; we never have and never will!

Who will benefit from such an approach?

All of us will and it should make our country a much better place where we can all indulge in the “romance of the national future”.

The alternative is unthinkable.

5 thoughts on “ART FOR ART’S SAKE?”

  1. Nice art works. Truly the decadence of our homeland is pitiful.
    May our grand children be saved from the awful things happening around us. It really is pathetic that the nation has changed so badly within our generation. May the provider of every good thing guide us towards doing His will.

  2. Lack of professional Critique of creative output the bane of our industries. Often personalised , and thought of as criticism! Hmmmm…..

  3. Consistent, analytical writing, yes. I totally agree that the African social fabric can be directed in that way, towards a better understanding and acceptance of our identity.

    I also believe in the spoken word. And our art: publicised. Grafitti-ed. And expressed… In forms that our Not So Book Learned But Wise Ones can also benefit from.

    Incidentally, Grandmaster F and the Furious F used to be mg favourite rappers, and are perhaps still my favourite.

Leave a Reply