Graphic art has long been a significant part of African culture, with artists drawing inspiration and creativity from traditional artistic traditions. However, in recent years, there has been a remarkable shift from traditional to digital art in Africa, with African digital artists revolutionizing the graphic art landscape. These talented individuals are using technology to explore new artistic avenues, break boundaries, and showcase the rich and diverse African culture in unique and innovative ways. In this blog, we will delve into the world of African digital art, exploring the impact of these artists on the graphic art industry and celebrating their remarkable contributions to the field.
The use of digital technology in traditional African art has opened up new possibilities and avenues for artists to express themselves and connect with a wider audience. One of the main ways in which digital tools have been integrated into traditional African art is through the use of digital mediums such as digital art, animation, and virtual reality. These mediums have allowed artists to add a modern twist to their traditional art forms, creating a fusion of the old and the new.
One example of this can be seen in the work of South African artist William Kentridge. Known for his charcoal drawings and animated films, Kentridge has incorporated digital technology into his work to create visually stunning and thought-provoking pieces that explore the history and politics of South Africa. In his piece titled “More Sweetly Play the Dance,” Kentridge uses a combination of digital animation and traditional African music and dance to create a powerful commentary on the country’s past and present.
More Sweetly Play the Dance, William Kentridge, South Africa
Another way in which digital technology is being used in traditional African art is through the preservation and documentation of cultural heritage. Many African countries are rich in cultural diversity, but some of these traditions and art forms are at risk of being lost due to various factors such as globalization and urbanization. Digital tools have provided a way for artists and cultural institutions to document and preserve these traditions for future generations.
Lyonna Lyu is a self-taught illustrator and iconographer utilizing NFTs as a preservation tool. Lyonna incorporates Eritrean heritage, narratives, and history while reimagining an ancient artistic styles. Some pieces are political and social critiques in nature, reflecting our world from an African diasporic lens.
Moreover, digital technology has also given African artists a platform to showcase and sell their work to a global audience. With the rise of social media, NFTs and e-commerce, artists can now reach a wider market and sell their traditional art forms to people who may not have had access to them before. This has not only provided a new source of income for artists but also helped to promote and preserve traditional African art.
Ade Adekola’s work spans a variety of media: photography, installations, and interactive art. He is a Nigerian-born Architect turned contemporary artist. Self-taught, he has been making images since his early teens. Ade’s eye is influenced by a blend of visual languages that cut across multiple cultures. As an experimental photographer, he uses technology in the post-production process to create alternate techniques of representation. He works from his private image archive, and occasionally from public archives. His works are made in discrete series – each exploring different ideas. The result is a body with distinct visual languages which question and redefines a path for the future of African photography.
However, with the increasing use of digital technology, there are also concerns about the potential impact on the authenticity and cultural significance of traditional African art. Some argue that the use of digital tools may dilute the traditional elements of the art form, making it more commercialized and less authentic. Others argue that the use of digital technology may lead to the loss of the physical and tactile experience of traditional African art.
In response to these concerns, many African artists are using digital technology in a way that complements and enhances their traditional art forms, rather than replace them. They are using it as a tool for experimentation and innovation while still staying true to their cultural roots and traditions.
African Digital Art spoke to Vince recently and he credits his expansive portfolio as a result of being “bored very easily”. Lack of opportunities did not stop his interest in art but only managed to spurn his passion for creating new possibilities for up and coming black British artists. Vince had a unique opportunity as an exhibition designer, working with clients such as IBM, Apple and Intel. Being black and British found him on the outside of many doors and spaces that were reserved for white middle class women who dominated the industry. Although he excelled in interior design and architecture Vince had to constantly reinvent himself to find job opportunities. He soon found work as a designer and digital illustrator for the entertainment industry.
We are pleased to feature the work of digital turned visual artist Adesola Yusuf. Over the past few years we have seen his work evolve from digital collages, to digital paintings and now incorporate a blend of digital collage and traditional painting. Arclight.jpg’s work has evolved into a prolific aesthetic that is bold and visionary. We had a chance to interview him on his work a few years ago and we wanted to have a chance to share his work and portfolio.
The intersection of traditional African art and digital technology has opened up new possibilities for artists to reimagine and contemporize their traditional art forms. It has also provided a way to preserve and promote these art forms to a global audience. However, it is important for artists to find a balance between incorporating digital tools and maintaining the authenticity and cultural significance of their traditional art. The use of digital technology should be seen as a means to enhance and evolve traditional African art, rather than replace it.