R. Asselberghs, RMCA Tervuren
"Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum of Central Africa" opens at LACMA on Sunday, July 7.
Occasions are often called momentous, but when a number of occasions that could be described as such dovetail, one might call the multi-layered occasion extra-momentous. Spectacular? That certainly applies, too.
And this is that extra-momentous moment: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is set to debut a permanent gallery devoted to the arts of Africa. The location is on the third floor of the Hammer Building, and the opening exhibit? "Shaping Power: Luba Masterworks from the Royal Museum of Central Africa."
"Shaping Power" debuts on Sunday, July 7 and runs through Sunday, Jan. 5.
That's indeed part of the momentousness of the gallery-opening occasion, due in large part to the fact that some of these pieces are on loan from the Royal Museum "for the first time ever." A Luba hero mask is one of the pieces that is making its first journey outside of the Royal Museum for Central Africa; an exquisite work by the Buli Master is also in the show.
Figurative thrones, headrests, stools, and scepters will be on view as well, giving an historic and comprehensive insight into the Luba state over a few centuries (starting with the 18th century). Several of the pieces have utilitarian roles but are also imbued with a beauty and etherealness beyond the task for which they were made.
And a Luba "memory device," made of beads, gives a feel for how the past weaves with the present.
An exhibit on loan from the Smithsonian's National Museum of African Art will also debut in the new gallery. The installation is called "Congo: Shadow of the Shadow."
A number of Saturday gallery tours are scheduled; meet in the museum's central court at 2 p.m. A free lecture opens the exhibit on Sunday, July 7 in the Brown Auditorium.
image: Buffalo Mask, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tabwa Peoples, 19th century, Wood (erythrina app), cowries, Royal Museum of Central Africa