The use of traditional Ghanaian graphic symbols by contemporary Ghanaian artists - case study in Kumasi

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It seems to me that writers on African Art have not paid particular attention to graphic symbols. They have rather done so about sculpture, pottery and other art forms. It also seems there is no documentation on the contemporary use of traditional Ghanaian graphic symbols in Ghana. Therefore this thesis seeks to find out how traditional Ghanaian graphic symbols have been applied to different art works by contemporary Ghanaian artists. This thesis documents the use of traditional Ghanaian graphic symbols by some selected Ghanaian artists residing in Kumasi and briefly discusses how these symbols have been used in contemporary art. The thesis has been divided into three chapters. The first chapter discusses a general view of symbols namely what they are, how and why they are made and how they are generally being utilized. Chapter Two deals with traditional Ghanaian graphic symbols and their traditional significance; This chapter discusses the traditional significance of certain lines, shapes and patterns, colours, linguist staff tops, as well as stools. Chapter Three which is the main part of the thesis deals with the use of traditional Ghanaian graphic symbols by a selected number of Ghanaian artists residing in Kumasi These artists have been divided into two namely: the academically-trained and the unacademically-trained- most of whom did not learn their art through the disciplines of academic training but from relatives or friends. Finally, a general observation gathered from facts obtained through the research as well as from interviews held with the artists is stated. A few suggestions are also made on how traditional symbols can be preserved in Ghana. The research reveals that the traditional significance of most of the Ghanaian graphic symbols is unknown to the public including some artists. Thus they are sometimes used indiscriminately in works of art.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Arts in African Art, 1992