Painting for the Gods: Art & Aesthetics of Yoruba Religious Murals

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This book focuses on indigenous painting traditions found on ancestral shrines of Yoruba divinities collectively known as orisa in southwestern Nigeria. The devotional activity of orisa painting often enacted in honor and veneration of departed ancestors for healing, empowerment, and transformation continues to find expression today in the creative works of contemporary artists who have been influenced by this enduring traditional art far beyond the shores of Yorubaland. Using the sacred iconography of the orisa as the basis of its critical vocabulary, the book examines sixteen shrine paintings found in rural and urban centers including paintings created by women in silence, those created in group accompanied with music and dance, those created in public by a restricted group of female painters and those created in isolation by male artists. Painting for the Gods also explores the symbolism of color focusing on the temperament and characters of the orisa. The affective qualities of color found on the shrine walls represent a means of veneration and worshiping of departed ancestors. Color employed on orisa murals as well as on wooden sculptures might provide a new touchstone for evaluating African art and suggest a model for the interpretation of other African art objects. Among the Yoruba color makes things happen. This book demonstrates the dynamic ways in which color is consciously applied thereby offering a unique lens for interpretation, grounded in the specific traditions of artistic cultures that might be applicable cross-culturally. In Painting for the gods: art and aesthetics of Yoruba religious murals, Bolaji Campbell sheds brilliant light on the sa cred shrine paintings by Yoruba women. A little known art form that celebrates the Yoruba deities (orisha), these paintings have been overshadowed until now by widely admired Yoruba sculpture. Although Campbell grew up in a world where these shrine paintings and orisha worship existed, it was not until he was an art student that he looked at them with a fresh eye as a rich field for investigation into the connections between verbal and visual arts. He explores the aesthetics, iconography, and symbolism of this elusive and ephemeral but deeply religious mural art. Symbolism of colors and their relationships with the orisha are central themes of this study, as are the processes of periodic renewal of the paintings and associated rituals. Yourba shrine paintings, traditionally a women's art, have attracted and influenced men artists, and Campbell explores this phenomenon. Painting for the gods is highly recommended for all those interested in women artists, religious painting, Yoruba religion, and African art. Janet L. Stanley, Warren M. Robbins Library, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Africa World Press, Inc.; 1st edition (November 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159221438X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592214389
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces

Customer Reviews

Five Stars

 on July 5, 2016
By Amazon Customer
Great book! And very accessible and interesting author

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