Dated 1959, this painting is one of Skunder’s earliest pieces, created amidst his immersion in 'the world of black Paris'. The young 22 year old Skunder was introduced to Cuban surrealist painter Wilfredo Lam by South African artist Gerard Sekoto. Lam’s 'voodoo-surrealist' imagery influenced Skunder and inspired an exploration of radical cultural imagery juxtaposed with formal international black aesthetics. Examining this work reveals an array of early Surrealist and Cubist techniques, visible in the elements of fragmented limbs, and cattle horn motifs, which were common in Lam’s work. The warm red, orange, and yellow hues convey a passionate energy ignited in Skunder during this early period.
Skunder was the first contemporary African artist to be collected by the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris (1963) and the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1965). He moved back to Ethiopia in 1966 and instructed at the School of Fine Arts in Addis Ababa. In recognition of his contributions to revolutionizing modern and contemporary art, the school was later renamed Skunder Boghossian College of Performing and Visual Arts. Skunder moved to the USA in 1970, where he taught at the Atlanta Center for Black Art and the Howard University from 1972. When a civil war began in Ethiopia in 1974, Skunder could no longer return, and lived in exile until his death in 2003.
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