Through the years, I have attended events far and wide that promoted or celebrated the work of artists from Africa. It is fair to say that each region has a distinctive aesthetic. If one examines the work closely, there are features that could be described as uniquely representative of local communities within those regions. Needless to say, Africans communicate with symbols in many different ways, just like people from other parts of the world.
Nowadays, many African artists are based outside of the continent. The aesthetics of their work are bound to be influenced by the cultures of their current locations. New hybrids are emerging all the time and due to globalisation, there is less mistrustfulness of this contemporary work than there used to be.
Once upon a time, many Diaspora based artists and artisans had dreams of returning to the continent, where their creative energies would be revitalised and they would create the best work of their lives.
Dealing with the reality of the situation is another matter altogether. Artists need resources and enabling environments to thrive, just like other professionals. African artists and elites are still taking baby steps with regard to finding mutually supportive ways of engaging with each other.
Looking back at the careers of the artists from the past with success stories, very little seems to have changed in the last seven or eight decades. Will there ever be a turning point?