The Concept of Aspectism in the Traditional Arts of the Bamileke People of Western Cameroon: Myth or Reality?

Djoukwo Tsanetse Majolie Carine, Michel Mbessa, Emmanuel J. Guia


Aspectism is an aesthetic approach that underscores the significance of visual appearance in artistic works, highlighting elements such as shape, color, texture, and other visual components as crucial for appreciating and interpreting art. This artistic style prioritizes the visual and formal aspects of artworks as channels for communication and creative expression. The Bamileke art object, encompassing both physical and spiritual dimensions, aligns with the principles of aspectism. Notably, many objects from this cultural milieu are featured in Western museums due to their striking physical beauty. This observation prompts questions regarding the applicability of aspectism to Bamileke art and whether it represents a myth or a reality. This inquiry delves into the intrinsic nature of Bamileke arts and the broader grassfields region. To address these concerns, the study unfolds in three key stages: introducing the concept of aspectism, delineating its artistic characteristics, and examining its manifestation across various artistic mediums within the Bamileke community. Additionally, the study explores the philosophical underpinnings of beauty within this population. The study concludes that the Bamileke art object embodies two distinct entities: the physical, or apparent aspect, and the symbolic or functional aspect. While aspectism emphasizes the apparent aspect, the argument can be made that the notion of aspectism within Bamileke arts leans more towards being a myth than a reality.

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