The influence of African style has always held such an important and impactful role in the developing culture of art, music & fashion and this theme will be explored in the forthcoming BBC Radio 4 ‘African Renaissance series ‘When Art meets Power’, produced by Alex Brisland and presented by Afua Hirsh. This programme excitingly looks to explore the wonderfully diverse cultures of Africa and explore the immense talents of the land and how fortunate we are to be able to experience their positive and vibrant influences.

African Renaissance series ‘When Art meets Power’

African art has been explored by so many artists, of course Picasso’s ‘Les Demoiselles d’Avignon’ 1909 would probably spring to many minds as an African influenced piece, the two mask like faces of the nudes provocatively staring at the viewers. As perhaps the beginning of Cubism this piece is naturally extremely significant, influenced in the early 1900’s by the French empire progressing into Africa and then returning  to Paris with it s haul of African sculptures and artefacts, a style that attracted and appealed to so many artists. Picasso, Matisse, Braque, to name a few all embraced this African influence and used these styles in their artworks, developing new movements and attitudes in the art world.

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Pablo Picasso

The power of African culture is no doubt also due to impact of the high number of youths in Africa. By 2030 young Africans are predicted to represent 42% of the world’s youth and 75% of under 35 in Africa. The exuberance and talents of this youth culture is clearly reflected in the art, music and fashion that continues to emerge from Africa. Instagram is alive with the works of new artists from all areas of the arts from the ever smiling music of Wiyaala The Lioness to the art of the talented and tragically short life of  Jean-Michel Basquiat to the ever growing list of talented fashion designers.

Wiyaala The Lioness

There is a constant stream of talent emerging from this land of positive energy and who would not want to enjoy the art and music that we see and hear in these days of uncertainty? To embrace the colours in fashion, to feel the heat of the African sun through art and the African joy of life in the sounds of music, is something we can all explore through the power of the media. African Renaissance promises to give us even more of an insight into this rich and colourful country whose proud history has influenced so much in the world and a programme we should all find time for.

Lisa Freeman