She dances and sings her own truth, with poise and pride.
Ben Enwonwu is arguably one of 20th-century Africa’s most important and influential artists. Recognized worldwide for his modernist examinations of Nigerian and pan-African ideas and images by mid-century, his work came to represent African self-determination, innovation, and excellence in an era in which the continent was finally regaining its sovereignty.
The Africa Dances series, begun in 1949 as a response to performances observed in his home city of Onitsha, became a subject to which Enwonwu would return throughout his career. In the series of sculptures made between 1980 and 1984, the artist isolated each figure in space, imbuing their features with a liquid flow that captured the essence of a body in motion.
This piece is a cold-cast resin predecessor to a 1982 bronze casting of Africa Dances. Identical in form to the later bronze, the cold-cast resin version was likely cast, because of its material, by the artist himself. Enwonwu also likely painted the surface of this piece in order to understand how the light would play across its form.