STORY BEHIND THE PAINTING – Village Celebration

Village Celebration is about all the preparations required before any celebration in an ancient African village. In Africa, celebrations will often last up to a week depending what they are preparing for. Initiation rites for young men can last months and finish with an exhilarating and complicated ceremony. In ancient times tribes came from many local and regional villages to join in the many days of festivities. The tribe leaders would exorcise the village of evil spells, worship the spirit of their ancestors and pay homage to forest spirits. Participants would then create elaborate masks and costumes, prepare ornate meals, exchange gifts, play their drums, dance and go into trances.

These events were always a wonderful time to catch up on local politics and gossip. This is my interpretation of what the precursor to these events entailed. The dancing women, for me, represent that this is be a coming of age story and all the figures are approaching the village ready to partake in this momentous event.

This scene of a seated man working on a figure crouching before him is a painting dated to be 6,000 years old. It was found in the Akakus Mountains in Libya and reflects the lifestyle of the modern Fulani peoples, particularly the Woodabe of Niger who dress their hair similarly. This painting may link their ancestors and so is of particular significance. (African Rock Art p. 163)

The dancing women above the seated figures come from a detail painted shelter wall in the Akakus Mountains in Libya. They are wearing dresses dancing and holding what might be rattles in their hands. The animals surrounding the figures depict their everyday pastoral life. (African Rock Art p. 190)

The two horseman with spears and shields are engraved in the style of Libyan warriors and emanate from Niger (Horse Period). (African Rock Art, p. 213) In my painting storyline, they are there from another tribe and ready to take part in the gala.

To the upper right of the seated figures are a forward facing couple, the man is holding his spears. All around are the village animals; the ostrich, the dogs in various fighting stances and the cattle. Life is good! This painting is done on printmaking paper that was crushed. Once dried, the paper was then textured using various hardware store tools and sponges. Rice Paper was then applied over top of the printmaking paper and the figures were then created. The framed size is 27” x 35”.

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