This set of seven glass vessels is on view for the first time in the exhibition of work by Spanish artist-designer Jaime Hayon. Expressly designed for the Milwaukee Art Museum’s permanent Collection, Afrikando fuses the tradition of glassblowing with the designer’s delightfully fresh contemporary sensibility.
Hayon envisioned this work as a “family” of figures. Though the individual vases are unique, each shares qualities with the others, some more than others.
Afrikando also serves as a fascinating study in light and color. A mixture of translucent and opaque glass produces intriguing effects, as does the visual layering of stems, funnels, and attached decorations inside and around the vessels’ bodies. The various components that make up each piece are not fixed together. Instead, funnels balance delicately on the vessels’ mouths, and the red staffs that adorn Malawa (Blossoms) are held in place by two small openings in the vase.
As the title Afrikando suggests, the collection is inspired, in part, by the decorative arts of Africa. Hayon was inspired by collections of African masks and costumes that he has seen in museums around the world. This is evident in some of the vessels’ mask-like features. These, when observed closely, lend a somewhat more somber quality to the bright and cheerful figures. With Afrikando, Hayon directly acknowledges the debt that modern Western aesthetics owe to African cultures, while also celebrating the cultural fusion that has resulted from the realities of globalism.
Afrikando demonstrate how globalism can manifest not only in aesthetic forms, but also though mediums and traditions of making. The glass studio that produced the work is part of a long and storied tradition of glassblowing on the island of Murano, off the coast of Venice, Italy. The basic forms were shaped by blowing glass into molds, these were refined with additional “gobs” of molten glass, and then decorated by etching once cooled.
- Sauda (Dark Beauty)
- Wambua (Rainy Season)
- Abayomi (Brings Joy)
- Umi (Life)
- Saidah (Fortunate)
- Chausiki (Born at Night)
- Malawa (Blossoms)