- Hardcover: 168 pages
- Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (March 30, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0810919907
- ISBN-13: 978-0810919907
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.8 x 10.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,675,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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African Painted Houses: Basotho Dwellings of Southern Africa Hardcover – March 30, 1998
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Prayer and protest come in many guises. The Basotho women of South Africa and Lesotho pray to their ancestors for rain, abundance, and peace by painting and slicing brilliant geometric murals on the mud plaster walls of their houses. "If the prayers are successful," says photographer and author Gary N. van Wyk, "the rains arrive and wash away the paintings." Growing up white under apartheid, van Wyk noticed these vivid houses while traveling with his family through the Highveld below Johannesburg where many Basotho lived and worked on white-owned farms. In the years when links to the outlawed African National Congress party were often severely punished, some Basotho women defiantly splashed their homes with the black, green, and gold colors of the ANC. Van Wyk joined in such protests as an art student by helping paint street murals of state-sanctioned violence. A passion for recording political graffiti led him back to the dwellings decorated in ANC colors, several of which he photographed for this dazzling testament to Basotho lives, ceremonies, history, and art. --Francesca Coltrera
Every few generations, Western architects wake up to the fact that our civilization's habitual fear of strong color and bold pattern on the exteriors of buildings causes us to lose out on a powerful form of architectural expression. Fortunately, no such inhibitions restrict the Basotho women of Lesotho. After each rainy season they redecorate the outer walls of their single-story mud-brick houses with pulsating polychrome designs of such potent graphic impact that the tradition constitutes one of the continuing glories of African culture.
Martin Filler, New York Times, Dec. 6, 1998.
Axis Gallery is exhibiting photographs by the art historian GARY VAN WYK, -- the founder of Axis, showing the painted houses of the Basotho people of Lesotho. The stunning geometric designs are executed by woman and are often coded with religious and political meanings. (During the years of apartheid, paintings incorporated the colors of the African National Congress, yellow, green and black.) Rather like graffiti, this is a vibrant, grass-roots art, and the publication of Mr. Van Wyk's passionate book on the subject is the pretext for the exhibition.
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