It’s All About The Tingatinga

We have fallen head over heels for Tingatinga, a contemporary genre of painting from Tanzania. Though it is not always about the dots, when they are we can only say…. Yayoi Kusama eat your heart out!

Tingatinga is a contemporary painting genre from Tanzania,  named after its founder self-taught painter, Edward [Eduardo] Said Tingatinga (1932 – 1972, b. Nakapanya formerly called Namochelia, Tanzania). At the age of 38, E.S. Tingatinga  created the informal art movement in an effort to supplement his then meagre income. The tools of his new found trade, high gloss enamel bicycle paint and ceiling board used to depict colourful yet flat renditions of animals such as birds, hyena’s, cheetahs and other animals found on the African savannah, as well as scenes from daily life and spirit figures. Tingatinga produced work for only four years before his untimely death. His work is said to have greatly influence another renown East African artist, George Lilanga. The Tingatinga movement to this day continues to provide a livelihood for many painters in Tanzania. A tradition that does not espouse to the western norm of uniqueness. Tingatinga paintings are mass produced, motifs are copied over and over and further developed.

How does this influence ones perception of quality and artistic excellence? How does an art market designed to elevate uniqueness or the one-off’s consider a genre where  copies are valued equally to the original?

Images via Inside African ArtTinga Tinga Studio, Thorup Art and Indigo Arts.

Images courtesy of the respective artists. All rights reserved.

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