The ubiquitous Griff Rhys Jones popped up on our screens again to discuss African art. I was pleasantly surprised by his enthusiasm for a subject close to my own heart. He started the programme in Mali's Dogon country where he watched the incredible masked dances for which the region is famous. It was fascinating to see how the ancient animist culture is having to come to terms with the modern world of tourism, commerce and Islam, and the subsequent effect these changes have on the inherent spirituality of Dogon artifacts. It really does seem to be a culture in its death-throes.
The second half of the programme was spent in Ghana, where the modern world has been more enthusiastically embraced. Jones interviewed a contemporary art gallery owner who lamented the fact that the vibrancy of modern African painting is still being overlooked in favour of 'traditional' masks and sculptures('ancient' artifacts are created to order for the tourist market!) but otherwise the streets and workshops of Accra were bursting with garish representations of contemporary African life. Oh, and those amazing coffins....they really do have to be seen to be believed!
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... rican_Art/