Art is a global nomad language. It does not base itself in status or division. Art provokes an idea, emotion, realization &
imagination in anyone that sees, hears, reads or feels it. We, as a human race, have more in common than we think.
If one asks, “What makes art African?” One must reply, “The same thing that makes, art, art.”
There are multiple perspectives to view in this regard: History, Identity & Globalization.
Looking at the significance of art in the history of Africa, we can truthfully say that art kept the African communities alive. From soulful dancing at the brisk of poverty to singing tunes of defeat in the battlefield to painting symbolizing emblems on the skin to writing beautifully about sickening love with ink made from tears to building tombs & monasteries in loyalty to their belief. Everything about art makes it African & the history of Africa is embedded in art.
African signature patterns & themes often exist alongside our identity. Our tradition & cultural influences can be seen in non-prescribed doses throughout the existence of art. In this sense that our question solidifies our statement as a complete subset.
Globalization came to the modern era with a headline that reads, “What’s mine is yours.” Considering the abundance of
information in this day & age, art travels & assimilates in the speed of sound. As of now, Identity is a trend that can only be protected legally through patent & copyright laws. Where moral satisfaction of belongingness is reimbursed in cash. Africa has a role to play in maintaining identity that so ever changes with necessary room for the globalized wave of art pieces of African background.
African art cannot be easily defined in mere words. Art performed by Africans may consist an element of history & experience preserved yet we cannot rule out the contemporary art pieces with no generic Afro prefix works that are created by artists of Africa & African descent.
The Case of Designers
It is enough that a designer can label his/her art African without having to use African materials or linked stereotypes. The essence of any design comes from imaginary aesthetics which are more or less influenced by origin & experience. I personally believe there’s no benchmark or status quo to uphold in the broad subject of art.
For example, Our brand [Alexander Hizikias] does not uphold any kind of ‘interpretation” standards, be it African or global. Whatever I imagine & I create. I couldn’t care less what my inspiration is. My train of thought departed from my African roots. The destination is creation. Yet I can fully say it is African.
In relation to this Crownz Global produces value-added “Gabi” made apparel which is a staple textile product of Ethiopia. The threads used to make the product are all locally sourced & sown together by Ethiopians. This can be called African art in a different manner as compared to the case above.