Latest books reviews
Toys for the Souls. Life and Art on the Mentawai Islands - (ENGLISH)
This book presents a detailed and inspiring picture of the traditional ways of life and the impressive art of the Mentawai archipelago located off the west coast of Sumatra in Indonesia. This shamanistic culture, most notably found on the northernmost island of Siberut, maintains an ancient relationship between man and the spiritual world. Within this worldview, everything is animated. Not only do humans have souls, but so do animals, plants and objects. To please these souls and to create harmony, alluring artifacts have been created for generations. In this way life, art, ritual and esthetics are intertwined: a notion reflected in the field photographs and in the beautiful and rare objects that are described and illustrated here. Toys for the Souls reveals for the first time the richness and creative power of an artistic imagination, deeply rooted in Southeast Asian prehistory.
Maternity. Mother and Children in the Arts of Africa - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
This book is the result of a lifelong fascination with the subject of the mother and child in the arts of Africa. Its author, Herbert M. Cole, professor emeritus of art history at the University of California at Santa Barbara, uses this book as the vehicle for sharing the results of his long years of research. He delivers a pointed analysis of the breadth of notions from across the continent on the subject of maternity, as well as visual interpretations of the representation of the mother and child take in both a biological perspective (fertility) and a social one (ritual practices and the expression of power). Enhanced by illustrations and descriptions of a wide selection of choice works both from institutional and private collections, this book offers a panorama of the sensibilities and styles through which this subject has been approached throughout Africa, realized through the creation of many kinds of artworks, including ritual figures, stools and thrones, architectural elements, and royal scepters.
Du Jourdain au Congo. Art et christianisme en Afrique centrale - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
The catalog for the eponymous exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, which was the subject of an in-depth article in our spring 2017 edition (http://www.tribalartmagazine.com/issue-83-sample-4), this book is a remarkable synthesis of the five-century history of contact the various populations of Central Africa had with Christianity and the spreading of the faith through missionary activity and liturgical objects. The latter notably include the crucifix and representations of Mary and the saints that gave rise to rich and varied local reinterpretations.
Tapa: From Tree Bark to Cloth. The Ancient Art of Oceania, from Southeast Asia to Eastern Polynesia - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
The art of producing barkcloth has an 8,000-year history in Southeast Asia and is without question one of the most singular and ancient traditions of the Pacific region, where it spread as successive waves of migrations swept across the ocean from west to east. Barkcloth came to be referred to generically as tapa. It is associated with ritual practices, ceremonial exchanges, and rites of passage, to cite but a few of the contexts in which it appears. Published in September 2017 and edited by Michel Charleux, there is finally a book devoted to the subject that is commensurate with its importance in the societies in which it was created and used. The technical aspects of the various kinds of tapa and information about each production center are provided in great detail in this comprehensive exploration of the subject.
Ritual Figures in Congo - (ENGLISH)
Marc Leo Felix is renowned for having devoted his life to the study and promotion of the peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Each of the many exhibitions he has organized in his Brussels gallery and the collaborations he has been involved in, both with a variety of institutions and with publishers, have been an opportunity for him to offer in-depth knowledge of the myriad peoples and artistic styles of this vast region that he knows so well. He has brought all the experience he can muster to the creation of his latest publication, "Ritual Figures in Congo". It was launched at the recent Winter BRUNEAF along with an exhibition that features some remarkable related works. Published in English, this book is a comprehensive guide to the statuary of the DR Congo through 120 pieces, each with a full-page illustration and detailed and informative text. A first is that the pieces can also be viewed in 360-degree videos by using a QR code. This book will serve as the catalog for a new exhibition Felix is preparing to introduce the arts of the Congo to the Chinese public, which is scheduled to open in June in the city of Chongqing.
Ancestors and Rituals - (ENGLISH / FRENCH)
This is the catalog that accompanies the exhibition of the same name organized for the Europalia Indonesia festival at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. It presents a general introduction to the history of Indonesian art followed by discussions of the principal themes that defi ne it, including status, fertility, protection, death rituals, and the role of ancestors in the Indonesia of today. In addition to the exhibition curator, Daud Tanudirjo, numerous contributors, including Peter ter Keurs, Nico de Jonge, Heddy Shri Ahimsa Putra, and Abdul Munir Mulkhan, present essays here. These are complemented by hundreds of seldom-seen masterpieces of Indonesian art on loan from the National Museum of Indonesia in Jakarta, which have never before been exhibited outside Indonesia. These objects, all specially photographed and mostly illustrated on full pages, are accompanied by detailed descriptions, making this book a valuable resource and reference for a wide array of Indonesian art forms, ranging from sculptures and textiles to jewelry and prestige items.
Glittering as Gold - (ENGLISH)
Though bronze, brass, and copper have been regarded as inferior metals in Western eyes, in sub-Saharan Africa, copper and its alloys proved to be a much-coveted material that was used in bodily adornments, on statuary, and as a means of exchange. Brass, in particular, became a highly valued metal that rivaled gold in luster as well as glitter. The adornments that grew from these trade metals became a phenomenon specifi c to West and Central Africa. Among certain African cultures, such adornments served not only to distinguish oneself in life, but were also regarded as the most personal of items of the wearer after death and were commonly placed on the family altar as a form of remembrance. This book introduces in detail some 100 items selected on the basis of form, rarity, and decorative motifs from the many hundreds of items in the Harry and Miep Schillings Collection. This is a useful addition to any reference library of African art.
Raja Ampat Ritual Art - (ENGLISH)
Over the course of the last century, the traditional ritual art related to ancestor cults, spirit beliefs, and headhunting has withered in the sparsely populated Raja Ampat archipelago. Setting out to establish an inventory of mon spirit figures, korwars, and secret priests’ drawings, this book also delves into the exploits of naturalists, explorers, colonial administrators, and, in particular, missionaries since the beginning of the nineteenth century. The social and cosmological background of the spirit and ancestor figurines from the archipelago is discussed extensively with a wealth of fascinating details and new insights. In the process, it is shown that the demise and the exodus of the traditional art resulted from complex interactions between indigenous agency, conversion, cargo cult activity, modernization, and, signifi cantly, intervention by colonial administrators. The abundant illustrations feature most of the known korwar figures, which have a distinctive and much-admired style, and also include a number of stunning, sacred-secret drawings depicting the spirit world devised by indigenous priests to serve in their rituals. Acquired during the 1930s, these drawings were long believed to be lost but have recently been rediscovered. The author, Raymond Corbey, is an anthropologist attached to Leiden University in the Netherlands and has published extensively in this field.