Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Old Guinea is All New Guinea to Me!

I love primitive art from every culture and time period. There is a spiritual power and fierceness I find that permeates art created in pre-modern cultures. I am no scholar or authority on primitive art (the scholars and authorities are vigorously nodding their heads in agreement), but merely an admirer, so often when I am drawing for pure pleasure, I will crack open a book on African or Mexican or, in this case, Melanesia culture and flip through until something speaks to me. I always acknowledge the culture I am literally drawing from because I respect their art and hope that the information inspires someone else to learn more about an indigenousness people. Here is the link to the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery.

I have recently done two drawings of New Guinea, Astrolabe Bay Masks that were collected in the late 1800s.

I generally am first drawn to a mask by it's overall shape and this one has a strong, top-heavy look. The mouth-like eyes are weird enough for me and I like how you can see the cutouts for the wearers actual eyes just underneath. The mouth itself looks dangerous, something from a nightmare.

The second mask reminds me of some mutant beatnik with the tiny soul man beard hanging off his chin and crazy, beanie hat on his conehead dome. I also love the cinnamon bun eyes, once again with cutout eye holes just underneath.

I hope to travel to Papua New Guinea one day and draw some masks from the real thing and not just from a photo.