Following the presentation we have been doing at the Gallery of African Art works, coordinated by artist Teresa Lacerda, we present a new exhibition. This time, since the exhibition on view in levels zero and one of the Gallery, “Grotesque January”, includes small works representing cows and dogs, we decided to convoke animals represented in African Art.
Taken out of of their boxes, where they were hiding since Teresa was thrown out of her studio-gallery in Rua da Rosa, they can now be admired on the yellowish walls of the Gallery’s “Sala ao Lado”.
José Mário Brandão
“In African civilizations, the statute of the relationships that are constituted between humans and animals is marked by sacredness. But it represents multiple nuances. Behind ritual acts, hide ambivalent behaviours, that come from two complementary orders, that of nature and that of culture. From this point of view, the exceptional powers of a king, a chief, an officer or a sorcerer, are defined in view of a proximity or filiation with a powerful, dangerous creature, of the earthly or aquatic world, such as the buffalo, the leopard, the crocodile or the catshark…
The different ways of appropriating the “qualities” of an animal, determine, among others, symbolic systems put into action, in gestuality, word, in the ritual apparatus, dignitary insignias and accessories. These objects, of stylized or simple shapes, or, on the contrary, elaborate sculptures composed of various elements, suggest surprising encounters in which humans, spirits and animals dialogue in a singular way.”
Christiane Falgayrettes – Leveau
Musée Dapper, Paris
African ritual dances use many times the representation of animals to communicate with spirits – in a human – animal – spirit interrelation. This triad convokes the characteristics of the animals, such as strength, agility, longevity, slyness, aggressiveness, etc. The superior part of the mask is composed of figurative objects (sculpted or in cloth) of birds, antelopes, monkeys, hyenas, rodents, porcupines, large hornbill feathers, etc. Those figurative elements cover solely the head of those who wear them. The rest of the body is covered by a full suit, made of vegetable fibres or sown sets of leaves that look like big capes, covering the dancer from head to foot. Each mask has a particular character that manifests the vital forces of the forest world, the forces of the spirits that impose on those who manipulate them the choreography and the musical accompaniment through which their nature is expressed.