Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu M.B.E (Nigerian, 1917-1994) Dancing Girl in the Woods

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Lot 68*
Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu M.B.E
(Nigerian, 1917-1994)
Dancing Girl in the Woods

Sold for £ 52,562 (US$ 66,578) inc. premium
Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu M.B.E (Nigerian, 1917-1994)
Dancing Girl in the Woods
signed and dated 'BEN ENWONWU/ 1950' (lower right)
gouache
53 x 36cm (20 7/8 x 14 3/16in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    A private collection, USA.

    Exhibited
    Washington DC, Howard University, USA, 1950.

    Sylvester Ogbechie writes that Enwonwu himself credits several of his techniques in creating rhythmical patters to the study of the aesthetics of Harlem Renaissance artists such as Meta Warwick Fuller and Aaron Douglas. The influence of Aaron Douglas's work is evident in many of Enwonwu's Negritude pieces; the silhouetted figures representing race consciousness through black identity and experience.

    In this painting, Enwonwu has given the figure a very distinct dance gesture, providing the viewer the illusion of movement. Such dance gestures are evident in Enwonwu's Africa Dances works in wood, bronze and paint. In an interview recorded in November 1950 the artist comments on this work:

    "It shows a dancing girl in the woods, painted in gouache. It is not a traditional painting, as you can see, but the colours are very vivid and there is no attempt to record anatomical features".

    One need only look at the sculptures of Richmond Barthé and once again, the paintings of Aaron Douglas, to make further connections between Enwonwu and the artists of the Harlem Renaissance. It is well documented that Enwonwu met both artists during his 1950 exhibition where 'Dancing Girl in the Woods' was exhibited at Howard University.

    An example of this connection between the works of Enwonwu and Barthé can be seen in the dance poses of the Senegalese dancer Feral Benga and the American dancer Josephine Baker. Both dancers were muses to the artists of the Harlem Renaissance and were both living in Paris in the 1920's to 1940's, performing in jazz and cabaret clubs, in particular the Folies Bergere. Enwonwu visited Paris several time, exhibiting there in 1946 and in 1952.

    "In London and Paris, Enwonwu joined African and African Diaspora intellectuals in evaluating the Harlem Renaissance Movement in The United States and defining its implications for Pan-African advancement in literature, music, theatre, dance and the fine arts."


    Bibliography
    Sylvester Ogbechie, Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African
    Modernist, (University of Rochester Press 2008)

Contacts
Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu M.B.E (Nigerian, 1917-1994) Dancing Girl in the Woods
Benedict Chukwukadibia Enwonwu M.B.E (Nigerian, 1917-1994) Dancing Girl in the Woods
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