Lot 39
  • 39


30,000 - 50,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Alexander Skunder Boghossian
  • Harvest Scrolls
  • signed and dated 1983 (lower right); signed and titled (on the reverse)
  • acrylic on canvas
  • 127 by 183cm., 50 by 72in.


Margaret Porter Troupe Arts Projects, New York City
Collection of Terry McMillan


Howard University, College of Fine Arts, Gallery of Art, Phenomenal objects: the work of Skunder Boghossian, Washington, D.C., 17 January 1989-10 February 1989

Catalogue Note

In 1980, Alexander Skunder Boghossian, developed a firm fascination with porous surfaces and once said to Thomas Porter, African-American jazz scholar, ‘I like porous surfaces, especially things that remain in sands…things that witness their time.’ Skunder used illuminated parchment scrolls made by Ethiopian debteras (a religious figure in the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches) as a principle inspiration for his painting, fascinated by their ethereal qualities. Skunder indicates that the interlocking and weaving, indicative of Ethiopian illuminated manuscripts, is called kulflfu and the technique is portrayed in his work to create a rich and textured surface. Skunder’s kulflfu composition in Harvest Scrolls manifests itself in the complex yet subtle shapes that make up the background. The dark shapes and blue tones highlight the vibrant patterns on the coloured hanging scrolls in the foreground. Skunder’s interest in time-worn materials is evident in the background as the forms fade between shapes, symbols and script, providing an underlying rhythm to the work.

Skunder's works give life and movement to objects that otherwise would remain static. Music, Jazz in particular, was important to Skunder’s working process. Skunder danced whilst painting. The technicolour scrolls that appear to sway, twist and fold across the suspended rods echo the happiness the artist experienced during the creative process. He creates a sense of movement and fluidity through the shape of the scrolls, leading the viewer to imagine the artist moving as he painted the work.

Scrolls proved to be a life-long interest, even obsession, for Skunder. The free and dance-like qualities of Skunder’s work demonstrates his interest in objects constructed or uncovered by the unconscious mind whilst consistently standing as an icon of Africa’s modernism and political culture.   

Harvest Scrolls bares a striking resemblance to Skunder's Spring Scrolls. Painted in the same year, Spring Scrolls is part of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art's Collection.