Bioma Figure Papuan Gulf area Gulf Province Papua New Guinea
This beautifully carved Bioma Figure is from Era River area in the Papuan Gulf in Papua New Guinea.
In the past, the primary focus of religious and artistic life in this region was based on powerful spirits called Imunu. Each clan had specific imunu Spirits that were associated with a specific location in the landscape, rivers, or sea, and was linked to the specific clan.
Papuan Gulf wood sculpture was primarily two-dimensional, consisting of board-like carvings, known as Gope or spirit boards and figures with designs in low relief, like this fine example.
Figures such as this one represented and served as a dwelling place for an individual imunu spirit.
Villages once had large communal men’s houses divided into cubicles, each allotted to a particular clan or sub-clan. Each cubicle contained a clan shrine, which housed the spirit boards, figures, human and animal skulls, and other sacred objects associated with the clan’s various imunu Spirits.
Susan Klomam from Christies auction writes ” In the landmark exhibition curated by William Rubin at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1984 – ‘Primitivism’ in 20th Century Art. This exhibition inspired a generation of art lovers and collectors who might otherwise never have thought to consider African and Oceanic Art, which is amongst the greatest art ever created around the world and throughout the ages. When analysing Picasso’s work of the so-called Africanist period, there is an oversimplified explanation that he was drawn to the abstraction of African art, and that his interest was almost purely formalistic. However, we know that there was the supernatural component that drove him, and it is in that spirit that those artists of the last century until today who turned to African and Oceanic art reads like a constellation of modern of art history – e.g. Gauguin, Picasso, Matisse, Vlaminck, Giacometti, Modigliani, Kirchner, Brancusi, Leger, Klee, Ernst, Pollock, Moore, Epstein, Arman, Baselitz, Basquiat.
Provenance: The Todd Barlin Collection of Papua New Guinea Art and Oceanic Arts.
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