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African Masks Collection

Far from mere decorative works of art, African masks are rich in meanings that vary according to the ethnicity in which they were designed, being passed down through generations as something sacred. It is estimated that there are hundreds of ethnicities on the continent, each, obviously, with its own culture and dialects, which distinguish them. It is in Sub-Saharan Africa that masks gain prominence. Their dimensions and formats vary according to their purpose, but they are always present in various events, such as births, weddings, funerals, preparation for war, honorary titles, festivals, youth initiation ceremonies, as well as magical rituals for curing illnesses, among others. In ceremonies, masks take on a mystical character; they are the link between human beings and spirits. Those who wear them often believe they embody other entities. Therefore, the creation of these sacred pieces requires authorization from the religious leader and a reserved location. Each people imprints their traditions and beliefs on the masks. The final product brings the cultural style dictated by the community and the artist's vision. Many characteristics are inherited from ancient ethnicities over the centuries. Thus, some masks represent animals, symbolizing their strength, for example. In Côte d'Ivoire, masks have half-closed eyes to express peace. The Tchokwe, made of wood and plant fibers, celebrate fertility through female figures. Wood is the main raw material used in Africa, but some pieces are also made of stone, bronze, copper, ivory, among others. African art influenced other cultures, being cited as a source of inspiration for Modern Art. Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Andre Derain, by diving into this “new” universe, renewed the European style. The geometric shapes of the Fang masks, for example, would have enchanted Picasso. After meeting them at an exhibition, the Spaniard joined the Cubist movement. African masks are present in museums around the world, and their appropriation by these institutions has fueled controversial discussions. Many bibliographic collections have also explored this topic.

MAZÉ ANDRADE - Always inspired by nature, Pernambuco artist Mazé Andrade found in these masks a manifestation of respect for our planet. After studying and researching, he became even more enchanted. “African culture is very rich. People revere the forests, their ancestors and, within their beliefs, seek to elevate themselves spiritually”, she observes, adding that the fact that she is Catholic does not change the admiration she has for masks (which are anchored in other religions). Based on these studies, Mazé created a collection of masks. All modeled in clay and cast in fiberglass with resin or plastic mass. The finish is painting. In some of them, he also used vegetable fibers, seeds and tow. “I was delighted with what I saw. I can say that I am an admirer and a little learner”, he highlights.

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