(Left Image): Scramble for Africa, 2000, by
Yinka Shonibare. 14 figures,
14 chairs, table, overall dimensions: 132 x 488 x 280 cm.
Commissioned by the Museum for African Art, NY, Courtesy of the
artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Caption (Right Image): Pueblo Feaset Day,
1997, David P. Bradley, White Earth Ojibwe, Acrylic on canvas,
Scramble for Africa by Yinka
Shonibare and Pueblo Feast Day
by David Bradley have several things in common. They share
subject matter – people interacting around a table –
and they exercise similar liberties with reality to create witty
and aesthetically pleasing works. Both artists use the art
element of color and the art
principle of balance to present complicated
scenes with layers of meaning. By balancing the various art elements
in pleasing arrangements the artists draw our attention to the
events in general rather than emphasizing any single aspect.
The colors in each work are generally the same saturation
so the values are similar. No single color or
part of the art work stands out or dominates the composition.
It is possible to move your eye around both works at a steady
rate and pause to examine details without being repeatedly drawn
to a dominant element. In Scramble for Africa the neutral,
relatively plain brown table top with the map in the center contrasts
with the various similar color patterns of the clothing on the
figures that are seated around the table. In Pueblo Feast
Day the figures are drawn together and framed by the pattern
rug below, the curtained window scene above and the surrounding
plain texture of the wood floor and walls.
The balanced and contrasted textures are supported by a balanced
arrangement of the figures in space. In Scramble
for Africa, the figures’ arms and their torso orientations
intertwine in the gentle, undulating lines of an imaginary braid
that encircles the table. In Pueblo Feast Day, pairs
of figures address and interact with one another in a symmetrical
arrangement. In the center of the work the largest light value
shape, the masked Lone Ranger, draws the viewer in by looking
back out of the scene.
Scramble for Africa
- This title refers to the 1884-5 Berlin Conference, an international
meeting aimed at settling the problems connected with the European
colonization of Africa. Representatives of all the European nations,
the United States and the Ottoman Empire met in Berlin, ostensibly
to guarantee free trade and navigation on the Congo and Niger
Rivers. The agreement ultimately proved too vague to be viable
and is often considered to be the reason for many of Africa’s
was born in London in 1962 and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at age
three. He now lives and works in London. He has taught at various
institutions of higher learning and has an international exhibition
record. Shonibare’s work is often multimedia and includes
photographs of a tableau in which he dresses up and poses.
Looking Both Ways- Art of the African Diaspora edited
by Laurie Ann Farrell, published by the Museum for African Art
Family Ties: A Contemporary Perspective by Trevor Fairbrother,
published by the Peabody Essex Museum
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Pueblo Feast Day
is a Native American spiritual dance celebration of gratitude,
honoring past, present and future abundance. The Indians dance
to be “heard" by the spirits so that all may sustain
the remaining harmony in the world. It is a centuries-old tradition
that occurs rain or shine. The public is generally welcome at
these colorful dances and may be invited into celebrants’
homes to share food.
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David Bradley was born
in 1954 and is White Earth Ojibwa and Mdewakaton Dakota’s
best-known painter. Now living in the southwest, he is noted for
his sense of humor and satirical subject matter. In addition to
painting contemporary Indian times in both modern and traditional
styles, Bradley is a founder of the Center for the (Native American
Indian) Spirit, in San Francisco. He is also the only artist to
ever have taken the top awards in both the painting and sculpture
categories at the Santa Fe Indian Market. Bradley was the leading
artist and motivator in getting New Mexico, which operates the
largest Indian art-craft market in the world, to pass a state
law protecting Indian art and artists from the “Indian”
art fakes that were (and still are, to a degree) being sold. This
led to a national campaign and the 1990 passage of a federal law
making it a felony to market as "Indian" works by persons
not tribally enrolled.
David Bradley Artist’s Statement
“To me, art is war. I see my life as an artist as a modern
counterpart to a warrior’s existence. According to my translation,
selling my art is hunting, something that I do to survive. Having
shows in galleries is like stealing ponies. It affords material
wealth and prestige. Being chosen to show in museums and penetrating
the mass media represents, to me, honors won in battle, such as
counting coup or killing an enemy. Yet, just as I would
not enter into a war because of my skill at or enjoyment of battle,
I do not create art because I like it or because I’m necessarily
any good at it. I do it because it involves my freedom. This freedom
is my ability to express the wonders, horrors and overall richness
of reality as I perceive it. So, instead of killing, I communicate.
Victory comes when I convey the deepening conception of inter-relatedness
feel between all things; between people and peoples, the environment,
the cosmos and myself. When I reveal that bond, I strengthen that
Related Web Links: 1
Art Elements and Principles
Six art elements can be thought of as the building blocks artists
use in forming an art work. Seven art principles that organize
the “blocks” can be thought of as the construction
Elements - The building blocks
1. LINE A mark/stoke
longer than it is wide: straight/curved, horizontal, vertical,
diagonal, and thick/thin.
2. COLOR What we
see when light is reflected or absorbed by surfaces: saturated/diluted
3. VALUE (Luminance)
Degree of lightness or darkness of colors: tint(light)/shade(dark)
4. TEXTURE Appearance
of surfaces both represented (2D) or physical (3D): smooth/rough,
glossy/flat, undulating/jagged, and transparent/opaque.
5. SHAPE (2D) FORM
(3D) Area defined by lines, colors, values and textures: geometric/organic,
soft/hard and sharp/smooth.
6. SPACE Distance
or area between lines or shapes: deep/shallow, crowded/empty,
- The construction method
1. UNITY Each element
in art work is necessary, none can be left out with out changing
the work significantly.
2. BALANCE Even
distribution/arrangement of elements in an art work.
3. DOMINANCE One
element is given more importance than other elements in an art
Use of an element(s) more than once in more than one way in an
5. RYTHYM Arrangement
in an art work of element(s) in an ordered sequence to create/suggest
6. CONTRAST Use
of opposite elements (see parings above) in close proximity.
Incremental changes in any element(s), especially a dominant element
in an art work.
refers to the strength of a color, the purity of a hue, or the
degree of freedom from additions of white and is another way of
referring to the value of a color.
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