Artistic Movements: Visual Arts and Cross-Border Exchange on the Central African Copperbelt

Artistic Movements: Visual Arts and Cross-Border Exchange on the Central African Copperbelt

Author: 
Lipenga, Ken Junior
Place: 
Oxon
Publisher: 
Taylor & Francis Group
Date published: 
2021
Record type: 
Journal Title: 
Journal of Southern African Studies
Source: 
Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 47, No. 6, 2021, pp. 951-972
Abstract: 

The Central African Copperbelt has long provided fertile territory for new forms of creative endeavour. Its visual arts, however, developed along different timescales on the two sides of its border. Whereas the Congolese Copperbelt has been associated with a lively painting tradition since the 1940s, easel painting did not develop significantly in Zambian mining towns until the 1960s and 1970s. This article explains how the flourishing Congolese Copperbelt's visual arts movement was rooted in colonial and post-colonial patronage of, market demand for and intellectual analysis of 'authentic African art'. However, it also problematises the way in which an undue focus on notions of artistic 'authenticity' obscures the region's underlying history of flexible and diverse artistic production and exchange, including the little-known migration of Congolese artists to Zambia. It finds that Copperbelt artists on both sides of the border sought to access a variety of markets, changing the form and content of their art to address or manipulate the expectations of their audiences. By focusing on artists, their motivations, their life stories and their outputs, the article seeks to understand the painting traditions of the Copperbelt region as a cross-border regional artistic phenomenon, which, in many cases, transcended notions of 'popular', 'tourist' or 'academic' painting.

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CITATION: Lipenga, Ken Junior. Artistic Movements: Visual Arts and Cross-Border Exchange on the Central African Copperbelt . Oxon : Taylor & Francis Group , 2021. Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 47, No. 6, 2021, pp. 951-972 - Available at: http://library.au.int/artistic-movements-visual-arts-and-cross-border-exchange-central-african-copperbelt-0