Traditionally in Africa many small, often ambulatory businesses have used hand-painted, hand-constructed signs to advertise. The business person may have an actual store front but more often just sets up shop along any street and moves around town from day to day as the business prospects appear better in different parts of town. In the case of people who cut hair, men’s or women’s, this is a very common option in all parts of Africa. To support those people in business there are very accomplished artists who make their living as commercial artists, painting signs for any business, itinerant or in a fixed location. This sign was painted by hand by a commercial artist for a woman who styles women’s hair, a beauty salon. This sign measures 23 3/4 x 38″ (60 x 96.5 cm), without the legs. 49″ (124.5 cm) with the legs. As this is a sandwich sign it has two sides, two separate units, connected at the top with a hinge so it stands alone and is visible from both sides. We are willing to sell either side individually or both together, as pictured here. The price for either side separately is $500.
Both sides feature the title, painted in black at the top, “God First” on the top line and “Rasta Hair Do” on the line just below that. The background of each side is white. On both sides a single, beautiful African woman’s head is painted. On one the woman is looking back over her left shoulder, both of her eyes visible. Her hair is in cornrows and gathered at the back. She is wearing a white, possibly beaded, necklace and a single white earring in her left ear. The only visible clothing is the narrow black strap of her blouse visible on her left shoulder. The woman on the other side is looking straight ahead; her hair is in long braided strands, most hanging down the right side of her head – to the left of her head in the painting. Her portrait is cropped so there is no clothing visible but she has a single round earring in her left ear, on the right side of the painted head.
Both women’s hairstyles show a lot of detail, a lot of texture, as African hairstyles typically do. The wooden sandwich frame to which the sign is attached is painted white; the white legs, extending from that frame, are still present but could be removed easily. The signs could be removed from the frame or be kept on it. The signs are painted on thin pieces of wood and is in very good condition even though the edges all around the perimeter are worn, evidence of years of use. All over the surface of the painting there are small marks and spots, further evidence of use. This sign clearly was made years ago and was used for many years before we bought it. 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. This sign was well used for some time but not so old as to have been worn as much as some older signs. Except for the moderate wear around the edges it is in very good condition. The quality of the painting of the women’s heads is excellent, among the best I have ever seen.