Mozambican Artists


Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

I’m exploring areas of Maputo on foot with no particular area or itinerary in mind. Lately, I’ve been learning about Mozambican artists and photographers and visiting a few galleries. The heat is daunting, and there have been several big storms – the air almost feels liquid! Communicating with taxi drivers here is difficult, so walking is the best way to experience the city despite heavy erratic traffic, sidewalks with huge potholes, and uneven pavement.

Nii Obodai Photography

Maputo tours are expensive and there’s a hierarchy of who leads which ones. Although I appreciate the knowledge and experience local tour guides share, the barrage of information for someone who has traveled for such a long time is too much. It’s easier giving it a go on my own, and the outings have never been boring.

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

Adiodato Gomes Photography

Nii Obodai Photographer

Nii Obodai’s exhibit – Paradox of Paradise – is showing at the French Cultural Center. From Ghana, Obodai lives part-time in Maputo. In his words, this exhibition “explores his relationship with the environment as a living and mythological space bound by oral and historical stories”. Obodai’s photography studies the “aspects of complex relationships between urban and rural culture”.

Nii Obodai Photographer

Nii Obodai

His work has been exhibited at festivals in Ethiopia and Mali, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, French Alliance in Accra, Ghana, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and Moesegaard Museum Aarhus, Denmark.

Nii Obodai

Adiodato Gomes Photographer

Adiodato Gomes’ exhibition –  Psychedelic, Beyond Hairstyle norms – was on display at Maputo’s Fundação Fernando Leite Couto (FLLC) Gallery last year and is appearing at 16 Neto gallery through March 5, 2018.

Adiodato Gomes Photographer

Gomes is known as a “passionate Mozambican photographer”. Another exhibition, Luvano, contains “a set of studio photographs depicting a pregnant woman”.  The goal of his exhibition is “sensitizing society to the need to value life and multiculturalism, emphasizing the role of the arts in this process”.

Adiodato Gomes – Luvano

Adiodato Gomes – Luvano

Adiodato Gomes – Luvano

Adiodato Gomes

The exhibit includes 17 photographs of a single model, Thobile Magagula. In this exhibit, Gomes used body paint to “enhance appreciation of the female body”. He named the project Luvano after the model’s son.

Gomes – Psychedelic, Beyond Hairstyle norms

Gomes – Psychedelic, Beyond Hairstyle norms

Gomes – Psychedelic, Beyond Hairstyle norms

Paulo Alexandre Photographer

Paulo Alexandre’s works are on display at the Fernando Leite Couto Foundation Gallery. His photography emphasizes fashion and corporate advertising.

Paulo Alexandre Photographer

Alexandre has also been involved in digital printing, documentaries, and travel photography, with subjects like Monte Binga, Mozambique’s highest point near the Zimbabwe border, the Amazon River, and Gorongosa National Park. He has published several highly praised photography books, including Photar Moçambique.

Paulo Alexandre

Filipe Branquinho Photographer, Visual Artist

In November 2017, Filipe Branquinho opened a one-man exhibition called Botânica at the Fernando Leite Couto Foundation. The show “singles out emotions and the colors and shades that pass through the seasons from earth to sky”. He represented the seasons by “trees, the flight of birds, and the creeping along of snakes and pangolins“. Regret that I wasn’t able to see his exhibit.

Filipe Branquinho Photographer and Visual Artist

Filipe Branquinho was born in Maputo where he lives and works. He grew up during Mozambique’s Civil War in an “environment closely linked to the worlds of journalism and arts”. He became involved in photography through contact with well-known Mozambican authors, photographers, and photojournalists like Ricardo Rangel, Kok Nam, and José Cabral.

Botânica Paulo Alexandre and Mauro Vombe

Filipe Branquinho

“A self-taught photographer, Branquinho studied architecture at Eduardo Mondlane University in Maputo and the State University of Londrina, Brazil. A multi-talented artist, he also paints, draws, and illustrates.”

Filipe Branquinho – Occupations

Filipe Branquinho – Occupations

One of his long-term projects, Occupations, is a “fresco seen through the prism of its working people and their environments”. Branquinho carefully composed the photos to show “how people work, where they work, and that they work with a lot of dignity.”

Filipe Branquinho – Occupations

Roberto Carneiro de Alcáçovas de Sousa Chichorro Artist

Roberto Chichorro “devoted himself to paintings expressing childhood stories, his memories, and the worlds of wonder, terror, witchcraft, animals, music, and laughter”.

Roberto Carneiro de Alcáçovas de Sousa Chichorro Artist

Chichorro’s paintings also portray “the armed struggle during Mozambique’s Revolution, social repression between the 1940s and the early 1970s, and the color and liveliness of Africans”.

Roberto Chichorro

Roberto Chichorro

His works are in several institutions, including the Museums of Contemporary Art in Lisbon and Luanda. He illustrated several books, including one for well-known Mozambican poet, journalist, and activist José Craveirinha.

Roberto Chichorro

Roberto Chichorro, Karingana III Flores para um Luar Azul (2008)

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya Painter, Poet

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya is known as “Mozambique’s greatest painter”. He was born in a small rural town in the south. Malangatana moved to Maputo at the age of 12 where he met biologist and amateur painter Augusto Cabral and architect Pancho Guedes. The two became instrumental in his education and career as an artist.

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

At 25, Malangatana had his first solo exhibition entitled Juizo Final (Final Judgment), depicting the “brutality of life under Portuguese colonial rule” and political turmoil in Mozambique. After multiparty elections in 1994, Malangatana’s work began depicting a “more hopeful phase of Mozambican history”.

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya  Painter and Poet

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya Painter and Poet

Malangatana was imprisoned for 18 months for supporting the independence struggle as a member of the Liberation Front of Mozambique (Frelimo).

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

Malangatana’s artistic works can be found in exhibits in Portugal, India, Chile, France, London, Brazil, and the USA. He was “awarded the Nachingwea Medal for his Contribution to Mozambican Culture”.

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

In 1997 Malangatana was named a UNESCO Artist for Peace. He helped establish Mozambique’s cultural institutions, including the National Museum of Art, Centre for Cultural Studies, and Centre for the Arts. He died in Portugal in 2011.

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya Blue Phase

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya Blue Phase

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya Blue Phase

Naguib Elias Abdula Painter and Muralist

Naguib Elias Abdula is one of Mozambique’s most renowned artists. He was a painter and muralist during the 1970s, “a decade of revolutions, heroes, and change”. His work has been exhibited at the United Nations Headquarters and the Vatican.

Naguib Elias Abdula Painter and Muralist

“Naguib’s entrance into the art world was a result of the political and social changes of 1974. Historical moments inspired a raft of artists and changed the centuries-old drama of colonial oppression in Mozambique, Angola, Cape Verde, São Tomé, and Guinea-Bissau.”

Naguib Elias Abdula

_____________

Naguib Abdula remembers, “The civil war was very violent for me, because we were confined and didn’t understand what war was and what was happening.” 

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Naguib Elias Abdula

When independence came, Naguib “went out into the streets to do murals and paintings”. He remembers that the country “had an illiteracy rate of around 97 percent, and communication was often through drawings”.

Naguib Elias Abdula

José Craveirinha, known as the “poet of Mozambique”, encouraged Naguib to become an artist. At the time, a “newborn Mozambican nation was still overcoming its armed struggle for national liberation.”

Naguib Elias Abdula

In 1976, Portuguese colonial forces led by Samora Moisés Machel returned to fight what became the 16-year war. The “conflict between the Liberation Front of Mozambique’s (FRELIMO) army and the National Mozambican Resistance (RENAMO) plunged the country into social and economic chaos driving thousands of people towards famine and death”.

Naguib Elias Abdula Mural Maputo

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