I can’t say I know African art nor can I generalize and say I have seen “African art” in my 3 week trip to Senegal, because Africa consists of diverse ethnicities and cultures, each of which has its own unique characteristics. However, I do feel that what I saw in Senegal wasn’t only “Senegalese” art but reflects African art.
Here is what I saw
1) Abstract art: it is no surprise since abstract art, especially Cubism along with Fauvism, originated from traditional African art. I hardly saw any fruit-piece or still-life paintings. Most of the paintings were not mere depiction of what eyes can see; it was simplified to geometric or linear forms and had symbolic meanings. It was usually drawings of human figures, Baobab tree or Africa continent.
2)Three-dimensional art (masks and sculptures): masks looked like it was essential part of traditional African culture. Masks usually had spiritual and religious meanings. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any ritual or ceremonies performed with masks, but it was everywhere. Most of the time, masks and sculptures were made out of wood or metals.
3) Sand-painting: we had a chance to go to a studio and see an artist painting with sand. There were different colors of sand which came from different locations such as dune, beach, volcano and desert. The sand was sprinkled by hand on a wood board. It felt very eco-friendly since all the materials were from the nature and non- toxic.
4) Clothes & weaved baskets & jewelries and more: nobody can deny that their beautiful traditional clothes were artworks. The colors and prints were just amazing. I could spend hours at the markets (my favorite place). i was obsessed with tie-dye dresses which were about US $2 !