I might sound like a proper philistine when I say this but I was never really into tribal art.
I used to see it on the walls of those well traveled friends back in the UK and think .... yuck ... that looks horrible .... they usually had rag rug painted terracotta walls (sorry if you have) and ethnic curtains and it just made me feel queezy. I didn't understand why someone would hang african masks in their lounge above the fire place and I found the whole thing rather tasteless. Don't get me wrong I appreciate the art .... I just thought it looked so bloody ridiculous in a UK lounge setting especially next to the glass coffee table and the ply wood TV/ VIDEO unit and a small bowl of pinky purple pot-pouri..... but, it was the fashion for a while and everything was ethnic. It was kind of a statement to say 'Yeah, I have been there, got the T-shirt and this little quirky war mask here.'
It wasn't until I wandered around the fantastic museum and centre of Indian arts in Mumbai 2009, when I saw colourful and odd, carved wooden figurines that I thought OH MY GODDDD I want to own one of those ... I LOVE IT and want to look at it everyday. Quirky wooden cartoon characters fallen from a lost world with faded painterly carved surfaces and missing parts.
I fell in love with ancient art and antiquities from foreign lands and now I am addicted. There is nothing that floats my boat more (OK ... maybe a few things but lets not get into that) than wandering around a museum packed with gorgeous objects from past worlds. They speak of another time when everybody was creative, everybody had to make things to survive, to hunt, to cook, to eat, to decorate themselves and their lives and you wouldn't have heard someone in the tribe or village say ' Ooooh no, I cant do that, I am so uncreative, you wouldn't believe it! I cant even draw a straight line!' Art is so important to culture that people tattoo their faces with it, carve it into their skin.
It was natural for people to get hands on. They used their fingers, hands, eyes and their imaginations to weave and pat, and mold and carve and build whatever they needed. There wasn't bloody photoshop. Thats what I love about it ... its necessary and gorgeous and normal to make stuff. To create. Everybody did it and everything was more beautiful because of it and now there are all these fantastic museums for us to visit and absorb and admire these wonderful things in our silver disco boots and then we go for a Skinny Latte and think ' Oh Man. Theres nothing you can do that beats any of this.... this is the ultimate and all you can do is enjoy it and keep trying.'
Not sure what I am trying to say really ....... Ughh erm ughhh..... ?
And then ...
I saw these by a painter called GOLDIE and my eyes filled with tears of amazement. They were the most beautiful oil paintings and I was bowled over by how powerful yet humble these Maori cheifs were. The atmosphere in these paintings was magnificent and I felt small and totally insignificant in comparison to their magical importance and the history which permeated from them out through the whole museum.
The light on their skin was truly unbelievable, what a mind blowing talent the painter Goldie was.
I stared at each one for ages in awe of their presence... so much so that I completely lost my friends and couldn't find them for over an hour.
(It was such a treat going to a museum with friends ....
Hi F, M and F!
I am so used to visiting these places on my own which is probably why I got lost)
These photos from a book do not do them justice at all. If you are ever in Auckland ... go to the museum ... its absolutely fantastic and the collection of Pacific Island and Maori arts and crafts are truly astounding. I could have slept there and spend days wandering around.
Truly inspiring.... art like this is totally priceless and I cannot find the words to express how important I think this art is to the rest of the world.
Of course I cant, its just too amazing.
A speechless Louiji.