Democratic Republic of Congo, of expressive form, the face covered with star-like designs. Original bite stick still present in the reverse. height 7 3/4in (excluding fiber beard)
Provenance: Marc Felix
Exhibited: Governors State University, IL, 2003 Krannert Art Museum, IL, 2003 Belger Art Foundation/University of Missouri-Kansas City, MO, 2004 Tall Grass Art Association, IL, 2005
Published: Bourgeois and Rodolitz, REMNANTS OF RITUAL: SELECTIONS FROM THE GELBARD COLLECTION OF AFRICAN ART, Ethnos, New York, 2003, p.52, fig.110
Masks of the Ituri River basin have been brought to the forefront only recently and almost exclusively by the work of Marc Felix. These masks, made by groups occupying the land among the Ituri pygmies, utilize painted design elements on their surfaces that have long been associated with the better known painted bark-cloth textiles of the pygmies. Masks from this region, indeed this example too, often depict the human face as belligerent or leering. Additionally the masks are polychromed and may be bisected or quartered, with oppositional patterning. However, in some cases a single pattern is repeated over the entire surface. Utilized in a context of boys initiation, this powerful mask is at once attractive and aggressive.