African Paintings and the Art of Storytelling

African Paintings and the Art of Storytelling

April 13, 2023

Storytelling has been an important part of African culture for centuries. Passed down through generations, stories have been used to teach lessons, preserve history, and share experiences. In many ways, African paintings are an extension of this tradition of storytelling. Through the use of color, pattern, and symbolism, these paintings convey a message and tell a story that is unique to African culture.

In this article, we'll explore the connection between African paintings and the art of storytelling. We'll discuss how paintings can be used to tell stories, examine some popular African stories, and look at how these stories are reflected in African paintings.

The Power of African Paintings in Telling Stories

African paintings are known for their use of bold colors, intricate patterns, and powerful symbolism. Each painting tells a story that is unique to the artist and their culture. The use of color, for example, can convey emotions and feelings that words cannot. A bright, vibrant color can express joy and happiness, while a dark color can convey sadness or fear.

Similarly, patterns and symbols in African paintings have a deep significance. Each symbol has a meaning that is tied to African culture, and when used in a painting, it can tell a story that is rich in meaning. For example, the Adinkra symbol for "wisdom" can be used to represent a wise elder in a painting, conveying the importance of wisdom in African culture.

Popular African Stories and Their Reflection in Paintings

Many popular African stories have been passed down through generations and have been the subject of African paintings. These stories often have a moral lesson or teach important cultural values.

One popular story is the story of Anansi the Spider, a trickster figure who is known for his wit and cunning. Anansi is a common character in African folklore and has been the subject of many paintings. These paintings often depict Anansi in various situations, using his wit to get out of tricky situations.

Another popular story is the story of the Lion King, which has been made famous by the Disney movie of the same name. This story is based on the Swahili story of "Simba wa Yuda," which means "lion of Judah." In African paintings, lions are often depicted as powerful and majestic animals, representing strength and leadership.

The story of the Tortoise and the Hare is another popular African story that has been the subject of paintings. This story teaches the importance of perseverance and determination, and often features the clever Tortoise outsmarting the arrogant Hare.

The Significance of African Paintings in Preserving Culture and Heritage

African paintings play an important role in preserving African culture and heritage. Through the use of color, pattern, and symbolism, these paintings tell stories that have been passed down through generations. They serve as a visual representation of African culture and help to keep the traditions alive.

In addition, African paintings have become an important part of the global art scene, with many African artists gaining recognition and acclaim for their work. This has helped to bring African culture to the forefront of the art world, and has helped to preserve the traditions and values of African culture for future generations.

African art has been an essential part of the continent's storytelling tradition for centuries. The paintings, sculptures, masks, and other forms of art often have a story or message behind them. This is because, in many African societies, art is not created for its own sake but to communicate something significant.

One of the ways that African paintings connect with storytelling is through their depictions of myths and legends. Many African cultures have a rich oral tradition where stories are passed down through generations. These stories often contain mythological creatures, supernatural events, and heroic feats. African paintings capture these stories and bring them to life, often through the use of vivid colors and bold designs.

For example, the story of the tortoise and the hare is a well-known African folktale that has been retold in various forms throughout the continent. The story is about a race between a slow-moving tortoise and a fast-running hare. The hare is overconfident and takes a nap during the race, allowing the tortoise to win. This story has been depicted in African paintings in various ways, often featuring the hare and tortoise in bold, colorful designs that capture the drama of the race.

Another way that African paintings connect with storytelling is through their depictions of daily life. Many African paintings capture scenes from everyday life, such as marketplaces, fishing villages, and farms. These paintings tell the story of the people who live in these communities and their struggles, joys, and traditions. They also offer a glimpse into African culture and heritage.

For example, Tingatinga art, a style of African painting that originated in Tanzania, often depicts scenes from daily life, such as animals in the wild, villages, and landscapes. These paintings are often characterized by their bright colors and bold outlines, which make them visually striking. Tingatinga art has become popular around the world for its unique style and its ability to capture the essence of African life.

African paintings also often depict historical events and political struggles. Many African nations have a complex history of colonization, civil war, and political upheaval. African paintings can capture these events and tell the stories of the people who lived through them. These paintings can serve as a reminder of the struggles that African people have faced and overcome, and they can inspire future generations to fight for justice and equality.

For example, African paintings often depict the struggle for independence from colonial powers. Paintings may feature famous African leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Kwame Nkrumah, and Jomo Kenyatta. These paintings capture the spirit of resistance and the desire for freedom that characterized the African independence movements.

In conclusion, African paintings are an essential part of the continent's storytelling tradition. They capture the myths and legends, daily life, and struggles of African people. African paintings connect us to the past and serve as a reminder of the challenges that African people have overcome. As we continue to tell our stories, through paintings and other forms of art, we celebrate our culture, heritage, and resilience.

If you're interested in African paintings and the art of storytelling, there's no better place to find them than here at With the largest collection of African paintings in the world, offers a wide selection of artwork that captures the beauty and diversity of African culture. Whether you're looking for depictions of daily life, historical events, or mythological creatures, we have it all.

Size Guide

Centimeters (CM)

Inches (IN)

50CM x 40CM

19 11/16 in X 15 3/4 in

50CM x 50CM

19 11/16 in X 19 11/16 in

60CM x 60CM

23 5/8 in X 23 5/8 in

70CM x 50CM

27 9/16 in X 19 11/16 in

80CM x 60CM

31 1/2 in X 23 5/8 in

100CM x 80CM

39 3/8 in X 31 1/2 in

140CM x 110CM

55 1/8 in X 43 5/16 in