Thursday, August 5, 2010


Coral Fourie

It is interesting to see how ancient symbols have found their way into contemporary art. In a way the artist is linking with the past .....with the lives of previous generations. It's a feeling I am unable to describe....this mysterious connection with ancient tribes.

All in time's space. Gesso and oil on canvas by Coral Fourie

In this post I've featured the work of artists from Africa.

Coral Fourie hales from the Free State, South Africa. Her art and her work with the San Bushmen "aim at keeping the flame of a threatened people alive."

I discovered Coral's work in a newspaper article many years ago. At the time we had no internet and I couldn't find information about her art anywhere but I was ever vigilant for mention of her name and saw a short TV documentary about her which made my day. While browsing in a bookshop I discovered her book Splinters from the Fire. Without even browsing through it to see if it was worth buying I walked to the counter and paid for it. I have poured over this little book for years!

"The Bushmen are the only custodians of a priceless treasure: a culture, with its roots directly in the hunter-gatherer ancestry of all mankind. While these little people manage to survive physically their unique culture is rapidly disappearing. The writings, the personal art creations of Coral Fourie and the brotherhood she shared with the Bushmen aim at keeping the flame of a threatened people alive. For the San culture forms of an intrinsic part of the treasures of humanity. Coral Fourie watches over it with much sense and sensibility."

 Coral Fourie is on Face Book. Click for her art page.

An image from the book Splinters from the Fire by Coral Fourie. I love that her paintings are influenced by her time working with the Bushmen

Scatterlings over Africa by Coral Fourie. 

Change of the guard. Acrylic on canvas by Robert Slingsby
Robert Slingsby is another artist who is inspired by ancient rock paintings and petroglyphs, especially those found in the Richtersveld. He has developed his own alphabet of petroglyphs and uses both ancient and contemporary symbols in his work. See his website here. Link to his petroglyph series here.

Robert Slingsby

Artwork by Soly Cisse, one of Senegal's internationally best-known artists. See more here.

Artwork by Soly Cisse. See more here and an interesting blog post by Yayemarie, here.

Mind of the Mathematician by Ethiopian-born artist, Wosene Kosrof . See more work here.

Tsevie III. Mixed Media painting by Togolese-born artist Sokey Edorh. See more of Sokey's work here.

Dance the Trance. Fabric and thread collage by Mary-Ann Orr.
Mary-Ann's "Thread-art works utilize unwanted household textiles, industrial waste and virtually anything that can be stitched down. The textiles are deconstructed into confetti-sized pieces, providing her with a pallet of millions of multi-coloured pieces that are then re-constructed into canvases."
See more of Mary-Ann's work at The Cape Gallery, here.


  1. Wow Robyn, plenty of places to go and feast my eyes on colour as well as tribal symbols. Once more, thank you for finding these sites for us to visit.
    I know I will complain when summer comes but it is bone chillingly cold here at the moment. My arthriticey joints dont like it.

  2. I love the bushman's song and the sense of movement that many of these pieces have.

  3. belle série d'artistes.. la dernière tout en bas me fait penser à alechinsky, peintre belge..

  4. Hi Robyn, I love all of these. The symbols transend all time and place and remind us how we are all connected. Thank you.

  5. robyn, I am speechless. what a wonderful thing to see at 6:30 am! I will have to visit several times before my brain can take it all in! thank you so much!

  6. Amazing..the colors and shapes..and the stories they must tell... thanks for this great post..

  7. me too! i'm speechless!!! wow robyn...this woke me up and warmed me up and got my brain SPINNING! excellent post :)

  8. I just love the Bushman song lyrics - these artist sure know how to sing and follow their song!! thanks for sharing their tune with us Robyn :) xox

  9. Hi, interesting post.
    i do think ancient symbols are universal and exclusively segmented at the same time. Very unique. I just can't stop looking at change of the guard. I think it's managed to feel "current".

    Of all these images, which piece that you think represents ancient-symbol the most?

  10. A delight for the mind as well as the eyes...
    Love ya Robyn! aka Beautiful!

  11. What a treat Robyn,
    I have to return when I can follow all the links...I felt so sated by the feast you have prepared here for us...the richness of material, the need to really look and appreciate the sensibilities that go into these various works ... really ...this is such a call to all of us who make marks to imbue our work with all the depth and breadth we can muster.
    time to ponder this more....
    thank you Robyn!

  12. Robyn....another feast for the eyes! As always, I will have to come back to "take it all in" little by little. I so look forward to your posts because I know I will see and learn so much! Thank you!

  13. a post worth many return trips, too much to take in all at once, I'll be back!

  14. one of the poems here say take a splinter from the fire.. that is exactly what two of our dogs do when we have a bonfire.. they prowl around the firepit and drag out glowing branches and lay there chewing them.. I ear they will light themselves on fore.. we have to keep a close eye on them...

    and yes these images do feel like memories.. free and bold...

  15. Beautiful.

    We R each a splinter of the Fire.
    That song is born everyday


  16. Wonderful colours and intricate patterns - can't wait to explore these links! Thanks Robyn!

  17. Spectacular sharing as always, I am uplifted by this work it is so elemental. xox Corrine

  18. For me, the shapes and patterns of indigenous and ancient tribes seem distillations of natural forms and patterns - essences of the land and creatures. So, when I look at them, I recognize them as stories of nature. I feel connected to them as I recognize or at least resonate with the patterns as building blocks of my very body.... they speak to me of myself.

    Very beautiful work, especially love Carol Fourie's work.... the first is kind of Kandinsky meets South Africa... interesting. Thanks.

  19. love the taste you have to feel something special in the art you find: not only generically tribal..but full of life too =)

  20. South Africa is thought to be the birth place of us all. I have seen similar markings in the US South West and on Kona. No doubt when the tribes scattered they took with them art. It still resonates today.

    When I had an opportunity to view rock carvings in 9 mile canyon in Utah I was transfixed in awe. These artists have captured that same awesome feeling of deep connection with antiquity.

    Thanks Robyn.

  21. Gorgeous examples of our interconnectedness!

  22. Love the paintings you've chosen for this post...I really like the colors and the busy-ness of the paintings! Lovely.

  23. Well, you KNOW that you've made my day. After these recent visits, you KNOW we are synched like that, or else maybe I actually need to comment and tell you you've made my day, in case you haven't read my mind. I love so much of what you've shown here, and I'm going to be able to go look at more. You are the best service provider.

  24. all exciting....found by you, given to us.

  25. Roby,

    Thank you for introducing me to this powerful group of artists. It's fascinating to see how the cultural cross- fertilization between Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas appears in these artists' works. I see echoes of Joan Miro and Keith Haring in Robert Slingsby's work. And, I love seeing the influence of the Bushmen in Coral Fourie's paintings--which reminds me of Australian aboriginal work. There's much to think about and return to here...

  26. Breathtaking work. Thanks for sharing. I would buy all of Carol Fourie's work if I had the means and the walls! :)

  27. yep,

    I feel these marks are inside us, we know them in our bones, it's why we are so comforted by them..
    I particularly love the grid style ones and the fibre one at the bottom, well i am off to see her work now... delicious eye treats here.

  28. wonderful symbols and artwork. I love petroglyphs and it is interesting how he used them in his work. These pieces feel so connected to each other too.

  29. Wonderful to see the ancient markings mixed with the artist of today...reworking the old with new eyes and hands...thank you...powerful!

  30. Robyn: I can relate to these, they are lovely. (I enjoy Australian Aboriginal art).

    You may find my latest posting to your taste.

  31. I'm just blown away! The beauty of these images is stunning! It amazes me to think they're all from Africa, when some look so native American, and the symbols look Celtic, native American, Asian... do you think there's a study of this somewhere? thanks for sharing the beauty and giving me something to think about.

  32. Robert Slingsby is one of my all time favs. I had an illustrator's calendar last year that had is brilliant work in it. And it always amazing me how ubiquitous the spiral is: it has always crossed cultures since ancient times.

  33. Wonderful art Robyn. I love that highly detailed work of Soly Cisse. Very powerful imagery.

  34. Penny, we've had a glorious warm long weekend at the beach but the weather began to turn on our way back. A perfect day for coming home.

    Annie, there are a few bushman poems/songs in Coral Fourie's book mentioned in the post. Most of all I enjoy hearing them told in their own tongue even though I have no idea what they mean.

    ELFI, my pleasure to share :-)

    Noela, I love the fact that many of these symbols are universal.

    Lyle, I'm so glad you have enjoyed these pieces as much as I have.

    Karen, wouldn't you love to go back to a time when there were no TV's and radios .... when stories were told at the fireside and passed down from generation to generation.

    Paula, these pieces do tend to warm one up don't they?

    Karin, I must find a recording of a bushman song. Totally enchanting!

    robynthepaperboy, hmmmm ... I suppose Soly Cisse's work represents the most ancient symbols and markings. The most ancient art (70,000 years old)found in the Cape in South Africa consists of crosshatchings similar to those in Cisse's art.

    Thanks DJ, Love ya too :-)

    Sophie, the first piece reminded me of you and your work.

    Thanks Cynthia.

    Deb, enjoy!

    Gwen, that is quite a worry .... the dogs dragging lit branches from the fire. Reminds me of a Dachshund which took hold of a lit roman candle and rushed to show her human friends who scattered in all directions. She was quite mystified by their reaction.

    Mansuetude, a splinter of the fire .... quite mind boggling really. Thanda.

    Sarah, enjoy :-)

    Caroline, there are many more beautiful pieces , following Coral Fourie's link.

    Corrine, it's great to share with people who feel the same way as i do.

    Valerianna, building blocks of my very body ... yes I do agree. They have quite an effect on me too.

    Thanks so much, Moez Ketepo.

    Leslie, we had Bushman caves on our farm and each time I looked at the paintings there, even as a young child, I was overawed. They felt very sacred.

    Pamela, indeed!

    GB, I'm glad you enjoyed them.

    Parabolic Muse, I knew you would love them, of course :-)

    Neva, from the ancients to us ...

    Hannah, these are pieces I have returned to look at often too.

    Andrea, if I had the means I would find the walls :-)

    Sukipoet, they do reach out to one don't they?

    Mary Ann, it's a way of keeping them alive don't you thik?

    Avus, I love Australian Aboriginal art too, though I have not been lucky enough to visit Australia yet.

    Sharmon, there must be a study about this somewhere. If I find anything I will email you.

    Debrina, Slingsby's work is awesome isn't it? I'm so glad you have heard of him in NZ, though not surprised since he is internationally acclaimed.

    Cathy, Soly's work really speaks to me too. I love the markings he makes on all his pieces.

  35. hi Robyn
    here's a link to an e-catalogue that you might enjoy

    [paste as one line]

  36. Thank you so much for sharing all this wondeful work. When l lived in Papua new Guinea for a few years, it was interesting to see their marks and symols and also the way some of the Native Austrlians symbols ( Dream Time) had started work their way into some of their work to. I love symols amd signs and use them in my own work at times..especially in my Silk Paintings.x lynda

  37. I'm far away from the "mysterious connection with ancient tribes", but this is not an obstacle to be enchanted by the art you get us acquainted to! And to discover symbols that I know and have seen elsewhere before. So, thank you again, Robyn, for thе wonderful post, full of colours, forms an emotions! We have a book at home, that we value and like a lot - "An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols", published by Thames & Hudson Ltd, London (translated in Bulgarian). By the way, my favourite is Mary-Ann...

  38. Wow! I was so surprised in that collection of wonderful paintings. I want to thank you for sharing your collection in this blog. It is very inspiring.

  39. Just got home from work and thought I would check out a few of my favourite blogs....what a treat Robyn, such wonderful art (and thanks for all of those links).
    Have been devouring these wonderful images and colours.

    Especially loved that little quote/poem from the San Bushmen.

    Jacky xox

  40. Fabulous art work. Wonderful colors and patterns. Love this series, it's a feast for the eyes! Thanks for sharing!

  41. Wonderful pieces here. And I love the idea of the connections between generations over time.

  42. Once again I am completely entertained and inspired by visiting your site. Thank you Robyn.

  43. I love the quote from A Bushmans song about taking a splinter from the fire and having it light your way. How beautiful. And how artists connect with past times through use of symbols. Robyn, what a wonderful post... roxanne

  44. A visual feast of colour and design. I really enjoy seeing the old kept alive with the new. Co-incidently I just posted about an artists using design elements from his own heritage. It's amazing how modern and old design can look with a bit of new artistic passion!

  45. India, really great, thanks so much!

    Lynda, it must have been so interesting living in Papua new Guinea. The Dream Time paintings are wonderful.

    Rossichka, the gallery where I now have my work has several pieces by Mary-Ann so I get to see them face to face. They really are impressive.

    dining set, my pleasure.

    Jacky, this is one of my favourite posts. The artworks are thrilling!

    Gaby, glad you enjoyed the post.

    Seth, aren't they wonderful?

    Katherine, my work is done :-)

    Roxanne, I was going to call this post, Splinters from the Fire but changed my mind. Now I wish i had left it.

    Lisa, I thoroughly enjoyed your post.