African art paintings splendidly capture the surrounding wildlife found within the continent, the different village scenes from everyday chores, tragic events, calamities, and pulsating ceremonial feats. Indeed,these paintings are among the most colorfully psychedelic modes of artwork that makes a continent of different worlds known.
In the pre-colonial period, such paintings were more subjected to abstraction as most African arts are. Way back in the pre-historic times, among the first traces of African art paintings were the images marked on rocks inside ancient cave settlements which were mostly characterized by human and animal forms. These rock paintings have played an utmost vital role in relaying the primitive life that African ancestors once led.
The San—among the oldest South African tribes, were some of the first people to illustrate paintings that depict links between the world of the living and that of the spirits. Also known as the Bushmen, some of the early San-African art paintings are illustrated by the medicine man informing the group or the tribe of the divine message of the spirits. The painting or carving of messages is usually done after a trance-dance to fulfill the medicine man’s duties of communicating with the spirits, and healing the sick.
From monochromatic prehistoric paintings, the different tribes within Africa have discovered other materials that produce numerous distinct pigments. These have brought out colorful and impressive paintings from the various ethnic groups. From rocks, these mediums are applied to other objects and surfaces as well, from textiles, to houses and even their own bodies.
Over time, the paintings not only served as artistic expressions but also some form of tribal communication of secret codes. In the middle of the eighteenth century, as the Ndebele people began using houses molded from mud, they also began painting symbols of different patterns on its walls. These meaningful symbols, only the Ndebele understood, demonstrated their cultural resistance and tribal continuity. These vibrant paintings were carried out by the women, who were known to be the tradition conveyors who passed the tradition from daughter to daughter.
As with the times and with the many foreign influences embraced by some of the African artisans is the birth of contemporary African paintings.
During the times of unrest that disrupted many worlds within the continent, many painters used their artwork to vividly portray the air of corruption, civil disruptions and injustice that loomed over the continent.
These African art paintings, among with the others that are differently themed, proved to be some of the most stirring masterpieces of the world. Holding only the purest heart that longs for freedom, African art paintings manifested more than what people wanted to know. They also impart thought provoking life puzzles for the world to ponder on.