Variations on the Dan Mask

Chambers used an African Traditional mask from the Dan Tribe in Eastern Liberia (a piece from the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Permanent Collection: PC - 6400 - 0147) as the object for the photogram, then manipulated the non-exposed area generated from this original mask form to vary the look. There's a transference from a traditional form to a contemporary one, or in other words, this contemporary treatment remains within the confines of the traditional form (through direct contact), and borders on Abstract Art that reduces natural appearances to simplified forms.

Installation at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe, Africa (December 12 - 31, 1995). Johnnie Carson, U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe, opened the exhibition:

Mask "Variations on the Dan Mask" Photograms

Review: Interesting Photograms By Chambers On Display, The Sunday Mail Magazine, Harare, Zimbabwe (December 17, 1995): "After missing a couple of Tom R. Chambers' photographic exhibitions, I finally caught up with his work at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe where he is showing some interesting photograms based on a African Traiditional mask form from the Dan Tribe in Eastern Liberia. Titled, 'Variations on the Dan Mask', Chambers offers his interpretations of the mask form depicting different shapes and symbols from which the viewer can also give his/her own interpretations. Though based on a Traditional mask, the different images have a much more contemporary appeal with graphical designs that have both humor and symbolic meaning. The artist's approach is said to border on abstract art as it reduces natural appearances to simplified forms. He says the first is the depiction of the essential or generic forms of things by elimination of particular and accidental variations. The other is the working away from the individual and particular with a view to creating an independent construct of shapes which will have aesthetic appeal in its own right. In some instances, the images reflect the moon and darkness while others depict a face hiding behind bars of different shapes." (Pikirayi Deketeke - Art Critic)


"Great Concept - very modern. Economic, yet powerful. Congratulations, Tom!" (Tony Mhonda, Art Critic)

"Wonderful, engaging work!" (Stephen Williams, Regional Director, National Gallery in Bulawayo)

"The strength and impact of the image comes from 'pushing' the static information. There's a nice sense of play that also respects the formality of the image. Masks transform and transcend the wearer and these photograms alter the mask in the same way. Congratulations, Tom, and good luck!" (Sylvia Bews-Wright)

"What a fabulous idea. I wasn't able to stay on opening night, but have thoroughly enjoyed it today. V6, V7 and V8 are my favorites. Best wishes!" (Lucy Hall, Director, United States Information Service (Harare)

"I could see a very deep and creative work. I realized that foreign people who choose to live on this continent are really searching something higher than ordinary life. Congratulations and success!" (Alexandra Almeida, Global Government of Humanity, Brazil)

"A unique form of art!"

"The Work is beyond humanity!" (Smart)

"Well done Tom. Keep up the beautiful work!" (Molly)

"Tom, congratulations on your very interesting work - good stuff!" (Ean)

"Congratulations, makorokoto, amhlope - our son and all the best for the future!" (The Chakanyuka Family)

"The exhibition has been well done and with respect. Let it be like this!"

"The art is very beautiful and very creative. Keep it up!"

"Your art is quite different, but very beautiful!"

Exhibition announcement: