A lot of us imagine that creativity and brilliance just appear out of nowhere, the fruit of natural talent that needs no interference. In relation to African art, I agree with those who say that art thus made gives the wrong impressions to outsiders about the African intelligence and artistic capabilities, and that it has helped perpetuate the stereotypes and prejudices that genuine African art is primitive.
Following a discussion with some friends on the above, I sought to articulate what I think of identity of the African artist, and the difference between the ‘self-taught’ artist and the ‘instant’ artist, which is removed from formal western education, but has to do with perfecting your art or craft—as seen in the art of the Fakeyes.
Fortuitously, during an unrelated research, I stumbled on a paper, The Crisis of Appropriating Identity for African Art and Artists: The Abayomi Barber School Responsorial Paradigm, by Dr. Odiboh Freeborn, a professor of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Benin. Enlightening and thought-provoking, the dissertation touches on the points raised above and some other issues of perceived norms for African artists.
Caution, this paper may lead to time consuming soul-searching.