It is in the style referred to as Bombou-Toro by Hélène Leloup that - as is the case in this piece from the Marceau Rivière Collection - some of the most striking designs from the ancient art of the Dogon can be found. In the central region of the southern Cliff of Bandiagara, in the 17th century, a remarkably individual style arose from Tellem and Djennenke influences, “almost schematic [the statues] seem to reflect the daily view of the cliff peaks; the harsh aspect of the environment seemingly infusing the sculptor with its rigorous qualities"(Leloup, Statuaire Dogon, 1994, p. 165-166).
Strict volumes connect through a strong dynamic accentuating breaking points - particularly so in the construction of the spine - whereas sloping planes bring the gaze of the viewer deep down. The forcefulness of the forms is emphasized by the thick crusty patina - fossilized by time - which attests to the use of this figure as an altar-statue during rituals, confirmed by its stance posed into an offering gesture. Ultimately, the modernity of the sculpture is compounded by the surrealist character of the head, stylized in the extreme, giving the work its timeless and universal aesthetics.
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