This is one side of a two-sided hand-painted sandwich sign that a beauty salon used to advertise its business in Togo. This side of the sandwich sign, which was hinged at the top, has been separated from the other side. It still has the short legs on the frame that one time supported it on the ground in front of the stylist’s shop. This sign was painted by an accomplished, though anonymous, commercial artist.
This sign measures 39 x 31 1/2″ (99 x 80 cm). It has a wide white area at the top containing the name of the business, Claire Tresse La Patience, where the word “CLAIRE” is in large red letters shadowed by black; the C is larger than the other letters. The word TRESSE is in large black capital letters. The words “la Patience” is in smaller, green letters; only the letter P is capitalized. The phrase “P.S.23” follows the title, in red, an apparent reference to the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my Shepherd…”
The remaining two thirds of the sign area has a light blue background on which 4 women’s heads are painted, in a style very unique to this artist, who has not signed this work. The top left woman is wearing a green dress with red and white designs; she has long white earrings and a white bead necklace. She is looking straight ahead; her braided hair draping over her forehead and around the left side of her head, under her chin (the right side of her head as we look at the painting). The woman on the upper right is wearing a yellow blouse; only the earring in her left ear is visible because her head is turned a little to her right (toward the left as we see her). The woman on the bottom left is wearing a red dress with yellow trim and a long red and white earring, visible only in her left ear; her head and body are turned to her right (toward the left of the painting). The woman on the bottom right is wearing a white blouse. She is looking straight ahead, as the viewer of the painting. Her hair is covering her ears so no earrings are visible. All 4 women have different, but detailed, braided hairstyles, with a lot of texture, common with African women’s hairstyles
This sign is painted on thin plywood so the painted veneer, as it has worn, has begun to separate from the rest of the wood, mostly on the lower left-hand corner and a small bit on the upper right hand corner. This is characteristic of signs that have been used a lot of a long period of time. This form of African art is contemporary; these signs continue to be made although currently the trend seems to be to more professionally printed signs on paper which is now cheaper than hiring an artist. This, therefore, is one of the last of a dying art.
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