(c) Detail: Ulli Beier and Léopold Senghor looking at Agony (1963) by Colette Omogbai in the exhibition “Neue Kunst in Afrika“ 1980/81, Archive Iwalewahaus

Lecture Series – African Modernisms

The lecture series is organized in cooperation with the work group Aesthetics of the Bayreuth International Graduate School of Advanced African Studies and co-curated by Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi (Hood Museum of Art, Darthmouth College).

International scholars and experts in the field of African art give public presentations to enrich the theoretical input for the research of African Modernism and a close reading of the Iwalewahaus collection of modern and contemporary art.

Elsbeth Court (SOAS, London), with her presentation “Looking Back with Jak”, situated works by Jak Katarikawe within the East African art history. Within this context, she also linked his works in the Iwalewahaus collection with statements of the artists.

Atta Kwami (artist) followed the development of modernisms in Kumasi, Ghana in his presentation entitled “Making modernism in Kumasi and its aftermath”. For a closer examination he engaged with the artists El Anatsui, George Afedzi Hughes, Kwame Akoto (Almighty God Artworks), Alex Amofa, Owusu Ankomah and Ibrahim Mahama.

Salah Hassan (Cornell University, Ithaca) puts his focus of his lecture “Khartoum Modern” on the years between the 1960s and the 1970s as they reflect modernist developments in Sudan’s art scene. The main emphasis of the presentation is on the Khartoum School and its artists like Ibrahim el Salahi and Ahmed Shibrain, whose works are also part of the Iwalewahaus collection. (Date: 11.06.2016)

Sarah Van Beurden (Ohio State University) engages with modernism in Zaire between the 1960s and 1970s. The impact of the cultural politics of authenticité will be considered in her lecture “Mobutist Modernism: Art and the Construction of Zairian Cultural Authenticity”. (Date: 22.06.2016)

In his presentation “Nigerian Modernism in the 1980s”, Smooth-Nzewi Ugochukwu (Hood Museum, Hanover) reflected on African art during the specific period of the 1980s. With a focus on Nigerian modernism defined by Structural Adjustment, the postcolonial time of transition in the field of culture and arts become visible. (Date: 14.07.2016)

José Luís Tavares (University of Porto, Faculty of Fine Arts) gave a lecture entitled “On the traveller, photographer and extraordinary Pancho Guedes”. The talk examined Guedes’ photography, not only as a collection of visual records for purposes such as classes, talks, publications and exhibitions. (Date: 16.12.2016)

Ozioma Onuzulike (University of Nigeria, Nsukka) engaged with “The Ceramic Art of El Anatsui”. The lecture examined the Ghanaian-born artist’s works in high-fired manganese body, entitled “Broken Pots”, created in Nsukka in the late 1970s, that inaugurated a radical ceramic art aesthetic that shaped modern and contemporary ceramic art in Nigeri.a (Date: 05.07.2017)

Sam Bardaouil (Art Reoriented, Munich & New York) presented “The Art and Liberty Group: Towards A New Art-Historical Definition of Surrealism”. It posited the Egyptian-based groups’ significant visual and literary contributions beyond the polemics of post-colonial discourse, advocating for a new art-historical understanding of the Surrealist movement that transcends the polarizing dichotomies of Saidian Orientalism. (Date: 26.07.2017)

Find the audio files of Elsbeth Court’s and Atta Kwami’s Lecture here.