oa Africa Insight - Contemporary African art in South Africa

Volume 17, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



Art in the broadest sense, as creative and aesthetic experience, is universal to all men. From this general perspective, one may analyse art at many levels - even simultaneously. One such level, for example, involves the use of the purely aesthetic language of academic art criticism: a work of art is judged in terms of composition, form, use of colour, structure, balance, rhythm, and so on. Another important level is the socio-cultural and communicative one. This emphasis on the socio-cultural in contemporary African art is necessary for a number of reasons. It is at this level, for example, that contemporary South African black art exercises much of its impact on viewers, calling forth responses that are understood in terms of the social present and the socio-cultural history of its creation. This socio-cultural perspective can also contribute greatly to a better understanding and appreciation of today's black art.

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