African artists are known as the originators of the Negro art of sculpture, a negro style of painting, a negro brand of philosophy that has now become part of humanity’s shared heritage. This art fascinated art lovers in the western world. The Negro art movement comes from the negritude movement which was championed by former Senegalese president, Leopold Sedar Senghor.
The movement’s main ambition was to contribute to the twentieth century art school. It seeks to raise the profile of African art. One will realize that the cultural creations produced by mankind at certain times, as it happens, by a particular group as with the contemporary visual arts in Africa, cannot be separated from events which, recently or in the past, govern the destinies of mankind of that particular group.
In Botswana, Negro art can be best observed amongst San painters. Looking at the San paintings, one sees that they depict the Negro style of painting. The San art works are more into emphasizing cultural identity, combined with the western ideology of building up layers of colour to create reality of their life. Tracing on the rock painting, audience will realize that everything used was man made before the San learnt how to use colour. The San combined the western ideology of using colours to the ideas of painting. Before that, they used oil from wildlife to paint on the rocks. The rock paintings are visual recordings of the Negro lifestyle of the San.
Qaeqhao Maaramela, a San painter, told Sunday Standard that he is given by God and he is willing to showcase his culture. It is very important to preserve the San knowledge. It is a good idea to use paint, unlike before, because it helps us to be part of the global world. He ended by saying that “we have to make a living; life has changed.” His work is direct and spontaneous, raw and unified by patterns and colour – imbued with his own intricate language. One will realize that the San paintings simply demonstrate their religion, social life, and philosophy that create the theory of negritude. The style of painting has made itself unique amongst the artists in the world. So their painting and its history are part of culture, which is the most important ingredient of the history of the Negro art in Africa.
Furthermore, all the stories from paintings and sculpture, with modes of expression which are highly significant, have modified the aesthetics of the African Art. With experience and expression of human sensitivity in some of its most exalted forms, one will realize a view that Africans are spontaneous artists. They have natural talent in art, for example, making wooden chairs, traditional architectural huts with well decorated walls. They know how to organize the visible into pictorial form.
There are traditional ways of decorating the face, such as the Xhosa woman from South Africa and letsoko by Batswana. During initiation schools, young men’s faces were decorated by a white paint made from the natural environment. The paint has a significance meaning to the people’s culture. These qualities mean that in the absence of any historical forecasts of any intention by other peoples to dominate over Negro art, whether by colonial or apartheid era, Negro art is highly successful in generating powerful black culture in its strongest and most intense forms of expression. This black culture has more to do with the spiritual being of Negro art. Whenever we look at some of the African sculptures by the Shona people from Zimbabwe, we see they have more on expressing spiritual negritude. Their sculpture showcases the craftsmanship which fully utilizes the creative mind of the African art. The sculpture of one artist in particular, Shepherd Ndudzo, has gained recognition because they demonstrate Africanness.
The Mozambican sculptures also depict Negro art. They go deeper into the wood by caving while at the same time communicating with their spiritual being.