Saturday, 27 July 2013

Angolan Art


I want to hang a few paintings in the restaurant so naturally considered ethnic art.  Unlike Our-Man-In-Thailand, the famous expatriate spy and undercover hit man, the Fifth Columnist (serialization of his life's derring deeds only to be published in the Times after his demise), I have no taste. 

As I write I am wearing a pair of shorts fabricated from three different shades of blue material of man made origin combined with a khaki safari shirt and a pair of dusty old sandals.  Hardly sartorial.

When it comes to the critique of art, my otherwise extensive vocabulary is limited to either, 'I like it', or 'I don't'.  An aesthete I am not.  A true aesthete may quickly recognize a shallowness of cultural appreciation in me but would graciously acknowledge that if three garishly painted plaster of Paris ducks on my lounge wall please me, I should jolly well bang the nails in required to hang them so long as at dinner, I seat him with his back to said wall lest his appetite becomes as tarnished as my (oh God, it's only plated) silver.

Try as I might, though, I cannot find it in my heart to appreciate Angolan paintings.  I am reluctant to influence the opinions of my dear readers, opinions by writing this I actively seek, but I think they're shit, tat, kitsch.  I beg you all to differ; to point out the quality I have evidently missed.  The skill of exucution that eludes me.  The metaphysical meaning and depth that, in the educated arouses passion and in me arouses derision.

I would like to know why they sell like hot cakes, some of them for many thousands of dollars.  I would like everyone’s opinion but especially those of the world renowned experts I am lucky enough to have occasionally reading my blog, Cro Magnon, The Irish Aesthete and, of course, the Fifth Columnist who turned the proceeds of a career slotting enemies of the State into a fine art collection.

I have simply two questions:

Does anyone see anything at all in these paintings?

Would you hang them on your walls and inflict them on your customers?








I like art that is tactile, mobile, something you can interact with and appreciate and involves all the senses.

This is the kind of Angolan art I like:


No, this is not my wife and, sensibly I thought, not destined to be my girlfriend either.
This is a very charming young lady visitor to the right breast of whom
I was pleased to offer some sadly temporary support.
Note that I have kicked off my six inch stilletos and allowed her to keep hers on
so as not to intimidate her with my height and ever increasing bulk.

33 comments:

  1. The answers to your questions are:
    1) no
    2) no

    The answer to your other observations will require me to be sober, which isn't likely in the next few hours. Like MacArthur, I shall return.

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    Replies
    1. I'm not in the least bit surprised but I was stuck for something to write about today, forgive me.

      Although why I am asking for forgiveness from a man who wrote about a shorn pineapple escapes me.

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    2. Indeed, no forgiveness required. My pineapple story was a reflection of some observations the preceding night, after rather a long cocktail hour, during which the concept undoubtedly made more sense than in the cold light of the next day. It's been a slow week for news and inspiration.

      As to art for your establishment, what about some photographs taken by you of the Lappa in its stages, or if they're too boring, of the lush African bush, or if that's too "coals to Newcastle", of young ladies such as the one you are supporting with your right hand. Or are there some B&W photos of Luanda you could finagle, or of river maps of your area etc etc?

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  2. Last time I saw paintings of such skill and panache was 1970 in Cornwall, where painting on velvet, was all the rage for half-stoned hippies just sobering up from the sixties.

    My tip, for what it's worth is... cut them up, thread with string and save on the Bronco.

    Charles Saatchi.

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    Replies
    1. We must have been on Mevagissy dockside at the same time! Just think, if we hadn't been smoking all that leaf, we may have remembered meeting each other!

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  3. Yeah ~ they're not good are they? I have looked at them hard trying to find some redeeming qualities that say authentic Angolan art, but find the whole spray paint, cubist look a bit disconcerting. So I Googled "Angola Art" to see what was authentic and am not much the wiser. But did find this which I liked http://creativeroots.org/2009/05/images-of-redemption-john-keane-in-angola/

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    Replies
    1. Well, sadly, for a good chunk of the population, that's what it's like. Things are getting better though, even if the art isn't.

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  4. You old debonair flirt you!

    As for the art
    Sorry
    Hate it

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    Replies
    1. I used to be a real bandit.

      As for the art, no need to apologize!

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    2. A bandit of the highest standard x

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  5. Surely there are other "artists" about. Those look to all been produced by the same person. The elephants in Thailand are now producing such fine arts. Any pachyderms in the neighborhood?

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    Replies
    1. That's pretty much the universal standard here. The only contribution pachyderms make towards Angolan art are their tusks.

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  6. I hate to say this, BUT... I don't think this is Angolan art work at all. Much more likely to be 'Angolan style' (or even ETHNIC style) Chinese factory art work. May I suggest that Alex does some work for you; it would certainly attract attention, and maybe he'd even sell something.

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  7. I can but agree with columnist, no and no. I also agree with him re some local photography and would suggest piccies in black and white for extra effect. I would even put myself up to come and take them for you. A modest fee of course.

    As for the young lady you are "supporting", I admire your taste.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is all tat, isn't it.

      Re the young lady, I admire the fact I could resist a taste...

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  8. I like the sort of pictures that hang on the walls of small town cafes. There is always a picture of a baseball or soccer team the restaurant has sponsored, a picture of someone in the community with a large fish he caught, one of the local queen of an event, maybe a picture of a has been movie star posing with the owners of the cafe. The other things on the wall would be thank you letters from people in the community to the cafe owners for various donations and things, posters for upcoming events, things that make the cafe a vital part of the community.

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    Replies
    1. Letters of thanks for donations? You mean some people actually advertise they are a soft touch for Money? Blimey!

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  9. I agree with you Hippo - about the examples of Angolan art you included with this post. Not my cup of tea at all. But in your last post you included a wonderful photo of three silvery fish in a pan. In all seriousness, if that were enlarged and framed or printed on a big photo canvas - it would look great. You could make it part of a theme - showing other well-judged images of Angolan foodstuff or markets where fresh produce is for sale or fishermen..or hunters. When I was in South Africa, I acquired several vibrant and large lino prints by Umlazi (Durban) secondary schoolchildren. One of them is still above our fireplace. Perhaps you could contact the Art department of a local school?

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    Replies
    1. Hmmn. You know, that all makes sense.

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  10. When I was in Angola, the markets had all the same "stuff" and the same "stuff" included the wood and stone carvings and masks. I thought they must have all been mass produced in the same place for all the markets in southern Africa. Cro mentioned a Chinese factory - btu that was in the days before Angola became a defacto state of China - so they probably came in by the plane load from South Africa. It was really hard to imagine any of that "stuff" was actually produced in Angola.

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    1. Who knows where the stuff really comes from, Nigel. I fancied it all came from Congo, especially the carvings. Doesn't your Missus paint?

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    2. Yes she does, part time - but it is not "traditional" Angolan art.

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    3. So she does quality, then?

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  11. How do you define "Art"? Please don't make me come out with cliches like eye and beholder.

    Am amazed at the negative reaction of your other commentators. I'd say that some of those paintings are rather witty. And the one with three dames dancing has a great dynamic, pleasing to the eye.

    Whether any of those pictures should be hanging on a restaurant wall is an entirely different question. As an aside: Most restaurants play their hangings far too safe. A bit like muzac. It's there but you don't hear it. They are there but you don't see them. Or if, like me, you do hear and do see, you might lose your appetite.

    On the other hand, considering your tastes, why not just pickle a cow or whatever else you may have to hand and display it in a prominent place like, say, the middle of the restaurant? (Ref. Damien Hirst). Or, as can be found in your country of origin, display a few stuffed heads of your bounty on the wall? One of my uncles has a whole house full of deer and fish heads, not least looking at you right across the dining room table.

    Whatever you do, Tom, please don't put Andy Warhol's depiction of a ketchup bottle up on the wall. I'd cancel my reservation there and then and go home hungry. It's not art just because it's expensive and has a name attached to it.

    If you really can't think of anything else (unlikely knowing you) why not do a Jackson Pollock? It's what I'd do: Throw a few pints of paint at a canvas. Et voila.

    U

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    1. Stuffed heads are out, I am afraid. I had a turtle Shell and some very large elephant tusks but the local police chief who is a mate of mine advised me to quietly get rid of them.

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    2. Oh, I will check on the price of the three dancing dames and give you an estimate of DHL costs if you wish.

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    3. U - my negative comments are on the authenticity of them being Angolan art not on the actual artistic qualities (and therefore very subjective). when you go to the little street or village markets and see what looks like mass produced - formula work.

      As for what should be on the Hippo's walls - because the above prints are everywhere to been seen - it will look tacky. I think if Tom is lucky enough to find a local artist, carver or B&W photographer - that would be best. Or - have nothing Angolan - bring some Bavaria to the Lappa

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  12. I disagree with most comments here, I do indeed like Angolan paintings, even though I'd say you didn't pick particularly good ones. Was at the artesenal market of Benfica twice in the last four years or so and bought a couple of nice ones. Would agree that they tend to have the same themes over and over - the dancers, the masks -, but you can actually find quite fine interpretation of them. Also not sure I agree with the 'Chinese did it' theme, as you can actually meet some real painters in the market, but of course they produce the same theme over and over in slightly different versions in order to make their sales. You just have to be a bit more picky!! :)
    Moritz

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  13. Moritz!

    A lovely, well balanced comment from you! I agree, in amongst the 'Tat for Tourists' there are gems to be found as anyone walking through a Parisien flea market knows.

    "I disagree with most comments here..." Good on you! Life would be so boring if we all agreed with each other!

    Pity you do not appear to have your own blog. I bet it would be bloody interesting!

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    Replies
    1. Should you consider writing your own blog and find yourself stuck for a title, might I suggest:

      The Politely Spoken Aesthete?

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Please feel free to comment, good or bad. I will allow anything that isn't truly offensive to any other commentator. Me? You can slag me without mercy but try and be witty while you are about it.