The impact of Ghanaian traditional art upon the work of selected contemporary artists (1950 – 1986)

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Inspite of the deep British colonial influence that went deep into the core of Ghanaian traditional life, contemporary artists trained in mission and colonial schools still portray traits of traditional forms in their works. The reasons, the purpose and the means by which these forms have been retained in the works of contemporary Ghanaian artists is what this thesis is out to examine and find out. The thesis begins in chapter one with an explanatory article throwing light, among other things, on the reason behind the choice of the traditional forms used and the five contemporary artists chosen for this thesis. Due to the diversities of traditional visual art forms found in the traditional society and their numerous and varied styles, what is therefore described in chapter two generally as what constitutes traditional visual art forms, is only being presented as an attempt to bring to light the examples of forms in the midst of these diverse traditional forms that can stand in for all other arts. It is in this light that Pottery, textiles and particularly sculpture - the key traditional visual art forms that influenced the works of contemporary artists - are chosen. Chapter three goes a step further into the general characteristics of traditional sculpture. This is necessary for sculpture particularly because it influenced the works of the five contemporary artists being studied more than any other visual art form. To throw more light on traditional sculptural forms, an appreciation of an Agona Asafo funerary figure is done at the end of this chapter. Form and function, desire for design fourth dimension, I environment and humanistic values - factors that influenced the traditional Ghanaian artist in the creation of his forms - are dealt with in chapter four. Chapter five deals with the coming of the Europeans and their influence on the traditional Ghanaian society and artists. The Ghanaian’s fight for emancipation and self determination triggered of f by movements such as Pan-Africanism, Negritude and “Sankofaism” led many ‘educated Ghanaians to go back into traditional forms to secure a basis for development. Chapter seven is a study into the extent of the influence of traditional forms on the works of Mr. Kofi Antubam, Dr. Kobina Bucknor, Mr. Vincent Kofi, Mr. W.C. Owusu and Mr. B. Offei- Nyarko and their contributions to the development of art in Ghana. The results and the sum up of the research is dealt with in chapter eight.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate 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