Name: 80 x 64, Acrylic on canvas, XXXXXXX, 2000
Traditionally, Maasai boys have to go through the ritual of circumcision. This boy has his face painted signifying that he has just been circumcised. For the months following the circumcision, the boys wear black rather than the traditional red shukas, and their faces are painted. The white designs are painted on using a mixture of lime powder on a cow-fat and charcoal base. The boys spend a period of up to 6 months away from home, marking their transition from childhood. The wording sometimes painted on the forehead of the boys is an attempt to impress their toughness upon those they meet.
The title of this painting reflects both the idea of paying the Maasai boy for the painting and the numerous times the artist was stopped by the Tanzanian police and asked for money.
The artist’s palette was inspired by observations of the similarities in the iridescence of beetles commonly found in Arusha and the shine on the boy’s face.