Ben (Benedict Chukwukadibia) Enwonwu, M.B.E (Nigerian, 1917-1994)
Africa Dances signed and dated 'Ben Enwonwu / 1964' (lower left) watercolour 75 x 53.5cm (29 1/2 x 21 1/16in).
Enwonwu began working on his Africa Dances series while still a student at the University of London in 1950 and returned to the theme throughout his career. He had read Geoffrey Gorer's popular travelogue by the same name, and having come to the conclusion that the author did not understand the significance of dance in African cultures, began to demonstrate his own interpretations, from his own Onitsha-Igbo roots:
"In the Africa Dances series (1972-75), Enwonwu reworked the formal structures of his paintings, eliminating all suggestions of physical and contextual boundaries by setting his dancing figures in an ambiguous pictorial space. The muted tonalities of paintings from this series - mostly blues and greens with subdued flashes of complementary colors - evoke an aquatic environment enlivened by arcs of soft light that accentuate the mystery of the dancing figures rather than their form."
BIBLIOGRAPHY: S.O. Ogbechie, Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist, (Rochester, 2008), p.182