On July 18, Nelson Mandela Day is celebrated as a way to honor the life and legacy of one of the important leaders against the Apartheid regime. Throughout his life, he sought to resolve conflicts through peace and struggled to ensure social, political and economic equality. As a way to commemorate this special day, we present five African artists, many of them self-taught, who managed to build a renowned career, and their works are currently present in numerous museums and private collections around the world. Discover in this article the life and professional practice of these five artists who changed the panorama of art through their works.
The multifaceted and self-taught artist Valente Malangatana Ngwenya (1936-2011) gave expression to his culture through various means and techniques, such as dance, music, poetry, theater, tapestry, ceramics and sculpture . His paintings are characterized by the colors, shapes and movements of the lines of the faces, which transmit the African roots, by revealing the stories, traditions and ways of life. He became one of the most internationally known African artists due to his extensive production in the field of painting on the theme of decolonization and the independence of Mozambique. His works currently reach records at auction and are exhibited in numerous museums and private collections around the world.
Malangatana , 1965
In a magical world of memories, Roberto Chichorro (1941) vividly expresses the characteristics of the Mozambican people in his paintings. He started his career in the world of design, from the Industrial Civil Construction course. In 1967, he held his first exhibition at the Cooperativa da Casas de Lourenço Marques, but it was not until 1980 that he dedicated himself entirely to painting. In the exuberance and vibrancy of the colors, it is transmitted to strong experiences, from the armed struggle during the Revolution in Mozambique to social repression between the 1940s and early 1970s. that stands out for being always intensely colored.
Roberto Chichorro , 1999
The sculptural art of the Wa-Makonde, or simply Makonde, became known in the mid-1950s, when sculptors began to create new forms and market them. The predominant material is a light and soft light colored wood, the wild Sumuameira. The sculptures present a technical and movement level that is different from the others in this region. These works stand out for their traditional manifestation of rituals, such as the so-called Mapiko masks, which are linked to complex male initiation rituals called likumbi. Since its discovery, Makonde art has managed to acquire great notoriety in the art world for its uniqueness.
Inspired by Makonde artworks, George Lilanga (1934-2005) created portraits of the traditional figures of this culture. The paintings on wood, produced in rich, bright colors, offer a contemporary take on a unique style. The artist began his career in 1961 in Lindi, a region known for its deep culture linked to initiation rituals with dance and for its sculptural tradition. The figures, stories and all the emotions of Makonde culture were the biggest inspiration for his impactful compositions. His works have been exhibited in several countries and in several prestigious museums such as the Center Pompidou and Guggenheim Bilbao.
With a unique look at everyday life, Joaquim Canotilho (1953) subtly paints the beauty of cities, animals, people and their habits. From wild animals to fishermen from Catembe, the Mozambican artist portrays, in a genuine way, the world around him, as a way to preserve a memory of it. Essentially using the watercolor technique, he conceives harmonious and smooth representations of the particularities of countries such as Mozambique, Portugal and Brazil. Oil painting, gouaches and serigraphy are other techniques used by Joaquim Canotilho . Participated in several competitions and exhibitions, collective and individual in different countries.
Joaquim Canotilho , 2006