05 Jul Masks and Mystery – Kolade Oshinowo’s mask

Kolade Oshinowo mask paintings are rare. It’s a theme he explored in the seventies and the eighties, but has mostly ignored in the ensuing decades.

It’s interesting about mask-themed artworks. It feels as if, with each passing decade, there are fewer of these artworks. That’s understandable though. In the seventies and the eighties masquerades and masks were common place. They had morphed from religious to cultural symbols. Masquerades and their colourful masks brought joy and excitement to village streets and even city streets.

Oshinowo painted these masks, probably in the same way he painted the cobblers and hawkers and all the people around him. He painted everyday experiences, and masks were, at the time, part of everyday life. His masks were not studies of any particular mask but were instead an expression of the idea of masks – their richness and the sense of mystery they evoked.

This one was exhibited at his solo exhibition at the Gong gallery in 1974. There’s an interesting newspaper clip about the artist and the exhibition. The painting is from 1974 – a long time ago, yet the mask still captures that sense of the commonplace yet mysterious

‘Mask’ and other recent artworks from the gallery can be seen here.