The development of painting in Ghana: before and after independence

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Many Ghanaians and Africans do not know that painting is an authentic art of Africa. The documentation of African art initiated by Europeans was chiefly focused on sculpture. The Europeans invaded Africa in the fourteenth century with Christian doctrines which contrasted sharply with the so—called “fetishism”, of the African. The mystery that surrounded African Sculpture in traditional religion was never understood by Europeans; so out of curiosity and a desire to know more about its meaning, they began to collect and document it. Other art forms which did not appear to interfere with the doctrine of Christianity were left alone. In addition, the conspicuous role African sculpture played in the Cubist Movement and the development of Modern Art, had led many Europeans and even Africans to perceive it as the only authentic art of Africa. It is therefore not surprising to see many books on African art discussing only sculpture. In Ghana, for instance, documentation had mainly been centred on stools and “Akuaba” dolls. Because of oral tradition which Ghanaians and Africans used as a means of recording history and education, many people are becoming aware of the importance of painting and other art forms which have existed for ages. An archaeological survey done recently in the northern part of Ghana has revealed evidence of rock as well as pottery painting in Ghana and Africa. At the same time, there were other evidences of traditional painting and decoration before formal art education began at Achimota School in 1937. This thesis therefore attempts to create awareness of the authenticity of traditional African painting, and dispel the notion that African Sculpture is the only authentic art of Africa. Painting in Ghana has gone through changes in terms of style, consequently the thesis also aims at tracing trends in Ghanaian painting and examining and discussing various styles in terms of philosophy concept, and material.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the Degree of Master of Arts in African Art, 1989