This African folk art painting poses a bit of a mystery. It is emblematic of paintings from Zimbabwe and Cameroon, which similarly feature numerous figures and animals, engaged in various activities, rendered in wonderfully bright colors and patterns and, like this one, painted on panel as well as its surrounding frame. But what makes this one particularly intriguing is that pasted to the back of the painting and written in pencil in a childlike hand, is a story.
Titled “A Pregnant Woman,” the story tells of a pregnant Mrs. Toko, a “very greedy woman“, who told her husband she “liked mice”; Mr Toko and his sons thus go off to dig mice, bringing her back a sack full, which makes her “very happy.” I am so curious about the relationship between the artist and the writer—are they one and the same, a teacher and a student, a mother and child? And who/which is Esnath? Is the painting based upon the story, or did the story come after, as an creative interpretation of the painting, which indeed suggests a rather unusual narrative? I really have no idea, but love the puzzle, and the painting, especially the pregnant Mrs. Toko (or whoever she is) in her yellow flower-patterned dress, and the lively spotted mice running around nearby.
Approx 10” square, excellent condition.