“A barber, a chair, two mirrors, a generator, and a Chelsea versus Barcelona match are all that is required for a fully functioning African barber shop.
Like churches, barber shops exist on almost every city street in Africa.” – Ifeoma Fafunwa
In September, 2020 Asande and I were prepping for our third Digital Exhibition titled, “Hair-itage” together with the build-up articles to the actual exhibition. These articles included; Braided by Gods, “Amandla Ami Asezinweleni” [The power of my hair lies within my hair], South African Barbershops & Salons – By Simon Weller and lastly Own Ur Crown – Nikiwe Dlova. This is a short rendition of that exhibition.
Art can translate into many forms, shapes, lines, colors, textures and movements. It doesn’t have an objective meaning to it, but it’s rather translated into different meanings and forms by people that are within different creative spaces. The one form of art that I seem to gravitate a lot towards is barbershop and tuckshop signages found all over the African continent particularly in small towns or townships. The one that comes on top is the barbershop signages.
These artworks are one of the purest forms of art, brought into existence by individuals who often have little to no knowledge about the arts industry or even art terms. Painted by sometimes the hairdressers themselves or hired sign maker, all they do is let their hands and imagination do all the work during their creative process. A majority of these artworks have a distinctive style and a noticeable bright color usage.
According to Indingo Arts Gallery, these artworks are categorized as “contemporary African folk art” that are brightly painted in commercial housepaints on plywood or masonite.