The “Soul of Life: Exhibition of Selected Sculptures from Africa” co-sponsored by the NMC and Shandong Art Museum features 149 items selected from the NMC collection of African sculptures, including 107 wooden pieces, 11 pieces of pottery ware, 18 bronzes, 3 irons and one of other metal. All these were works by the artists from 10-plus tribes of Africa. In addition to carrying on the traditions and beliefs, African sculptures record customs and everyday life. They boast unique charm as they are rendered into unusual forms with the passion and imagination of the creators. Through cultural communication around the world, African sculptures have contributed to the growth of the art in other parts of the world, have inspired the creations of such masters as Matisse, Picasso, Braque, and Vlaminck, and have exerted prevailing influence upon many countries and ethnic groups.
Be it a sculpture, mask or a top piece, a building component or an article for daily use, African artists, with their exuberant imagination and creativity, express their endless awe of and praise for life. The “Mother and Son” series shows keen expectation for seeing the ethnic group prosper; the “Ancestor” series pays homage to the deceased; and the “Knight” series shows deep respect for heroes. The diversified vivid human sculptures of profound significance show robust vitality and contain rich cultural information. The appropriate exaggeration and transformation, mighty rhythms of lines, and marvelous combos of planes and bodies offer the audience a lot of aesthetic pleasure.