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Nkiru Nzegwu, ‘‘When the Paradigm Shifts, Africa Appears’: reconceptualizing Yoruba art in space and time’: a review

3 August 2018

‘When the Paradigm Shifts, Africa Appears’: reconceptualizing Yoruba art in space and time

Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art by Rowland Abiodun. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 409 pp., 73 b/w, 67 color ill. $92 cloth.

Nkiru Nzegwu (Binghamton University, New York) 19/NN1

Abstract: Yoruba Art and Language: Seeking the African in African Art by Rowland Abiodun is an epistemological tour de force on art and aesthetics from within a Yoruba intellectual scheme. Marshaling the deliberative methodology of the Yoruba intellectual tradition, Abiodun takes us deep into the Yoruba intellectual arena where normative and meta-theoretical disputations on art, culture, and aesthetics habitually take place. In successfully wresting Yoruba art and aesthetics from the logic of the Western aesthetic system, Abiodun provides intelligibility to the Yoruba conception of art as oríkì. Owing to the theoretical density of his concepts and the complexity of his argument, this essay begins by examining the issue of the relevant language for generating meanings and comprehending African art; it highlights the conceptual scheme and orally-based historical tradition that constitute the relevant paradigm of knowledge for Yoruba art; it draws attention to the metaphysical traits of this paradigm; and lastly, it illuminates the underlying logic of the chapters presenting the Yoruba aesthetic universe.

Key words: aesthetics, art, visual oríkì, ẹwà, beauty, Ife-naturalism

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