‘Modernist Expression In Africa’ At Haffenreffer

The current exhibition at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology presents late 20th-century art from Ghana and Nigeria alongside related traditional objects. “A Verry Drunk Hunter’s Dream”: Modernist Expression in Africa, is part of an ongoing collaboration between the HMA and the Rhode Island School of Design; the title refers to one of the textiles featured in the show.

Seen here is the Ghanaian ‘Coffin in the Form of a Fishing Canoe’ paint on wood, 1982.

Fantasy coffins are a thriving cultural practice in Ghana and a new genre in contemporary art. Some capture a character trait or occupation of the departed, some depict hope for the afterlife, and still others illustrate local proverbs. Here, artists of the Kane Kwei Workshop depict men on a fishing canoe. The men are painted in red, white, and black, symbolic colors reminiscent of a particular Asafo company of the 19th-century that gallantly fought the British to a standstill at the height of colonial engagement in the Gold Coast.

Love the Yamaha motor. And don’t miss the gold and wood staffs.

(On Tuesday, Rhode Island elected Gabe Amo to represent the 1st District in the US House of Representatives! His father immigrated to the state from Ghana, his mother from Liberia. This exhibition provides a look into the Amo family’s cultural DNA.)

Museum hours: 10am to 4pm, Thursday thru Sunday.

Free and open to the public, Haffenreffer Museum, 21 Prospect Street, 1st floor Manning Hall, Brown University, (directions)


Below is a sculpture by Nigerian artist Thomas Ona depicting a British colonial district officer on tour; the country achieved independence in 1960. From the wall text: “Ona focused on capturing the colonial Yoruba experience, capitalizing on the souvenir trade during the colonial period.”

Below is “The Beach” by Ghanaian artist Richmond Teye Ackam, acrylic on canvas, 1982.

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