African Art Paintings: A Brief History of African Fine Art Paintings

The history of African paintings makes for a fascinating and rich account. Some of the earliest rock paintings of Africa have been found in Namibia. They are estimated to date back to over 27,000 years, though it is almost impossible to point a precise date. In the historic times, African wall art was largely restricted to rock carvings and paintings. The cave man would depict the lifestyle of an age through such paintings that he must have found cathartic. However, soon the carvings over rocks began to take a deep and more powerful meaning.

African men began to forge connections of their rock paintings with their ancestors. History is rich with tales and anecdotes of African man’s obsession with the dead. The Egyptian pyramids and tombs are clear-cut testimonies of their zeal to connect with the departed. Even during the pre-historic era, men in this continent found a way to reach out to the dead. They would often sketch some symbols or signs which were meant to impart some message to the ancestors.

Over the next few centuries, tribal migration became a part of the African history. It was during this phase that the notorious tribes like the Bushmen invented African decorative paintings. Men and women would also use their bodies as a canvas in order to paint themselves in the exclusive color or design which was identical for all members of a particular tribe or community.

Before long, image-based paintings gave way to abstract art. An exact estimate of the date cannot be made in this context but it can be assumed with safety that factors like creativity, imagination and lack of any alternative subject must have contributed to the birth to the concept of abstract art. Earlier, monochromes were the only visible colors as depicted in rocks and stones. Later on, fruits and leaves began to be used to extract colors which soon ran into vogue and lay the foundation for colored paintings.

In the medieval era, Africa witnessed the advent of Europeans. The colonists from Europe brought their own distinct culture and art. The Renaissance form of art was amongst the most popular forms during that time. It did have its expected amount of impact on the African paintings. However, it would be fair to say that it failed to bring about any major transformation. African wall art retained its original flavor and continued with its quintessential depiction of life, lifestyle, spirituality and abstractness.