AFRICOBRA: Philosophy

Gerald Williams, Wake Up, 1969, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches (courtesy of t
Gerald Williams, Wake Up, 1969, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches (courtesy of the artist and Logan Center for the Arts)

Randall Miller reviews the exhibition AFRICOBRA: Philosophy at the Logan Center for the Arts, Chicago, on view through August 11, 2013.

Miller writes: "Much of the work on display features iconic compositions of figures front and center in an almost neo-Byzantine style. The simple messages surrounding the figures are frank and explicit, creating a collection of works that border on propaganda. This is by design, according to the pillars of AFRICOBRA’s aesthetic philosophy as described by founding member Barbara Jones-Hogu’s 1973 manifesto titled 'The History, Philosophy and Aesthetics of AFRICOBRA.' Jones-Hogu states that compositions must feature 'the figure frontal and direct to stress strength, straight forwardness, profoundness, and proudness' and 'subject matter must be completely understood by the viewer, therefore lettering [ought to] be used to extend and clarify the visual statement.' Steeped in the politics of self-determination, Black Nationalism, and 'Black Power' espoused by the burgeoning Black Arts movement, AFRICOBRA artists Jeff Donaldson, Barbara Jones-Hogu, Wadworth Jarell, Jae Jarell, and Gerald Williams created colorful figurative works loaded with messages calling for greater political consciousness."