The Tingatinga Collection
‘From simply Genuine to authentic Fake’
In this exhibition the Red Hill Art Gallery shows a collection of artworks from the first generation Tingatinga painters: Eduardo Saidi Tingatinga, Kaspar Henrick Tedo, Mandu Adeusi - and Mohamed Charinda and George Lilanga.
Some of these artworks were obtained directly from the artist and others through galleries. Most of the Tingatingas were acquired privately. They purported to be ‘authentic’, however the beauty and simplicity of the paintings prevailed over the certainty of their authenticity. Provenance in this area is rarely certain.
Eduardo Saidi Tingatinga
was born in rural southern Tanzania in1932. Poverty brought him initially to Tanga and later to Dar es Salaam. He was determined to improve his life and took every opportunity available, starting as a street vendor, embroidering and selling tablecloths, decorating houses with wall paintings – according to the Makonde tradition in his home region - and ending as a very promising talented painter. Unfortunately his artistic life lasted only four years. It came to an abrupt end in 1972 at the age of 40, when he was killed by a stray bullet. He left a wife and two young children.
His artistic career started after he noticed that Congolese artists in Dar es Salaam were selling their artworks to tourists. He saw the potential commercial side of it and bought low cost material such as ceiling boards (60 x 60 cm) brushes, thinner and enamel (bicycle) paint. His naïve and simple surrealistic motifs – animals and wild life, birds from the savannah and scenes from village life – soon found the attention of expatriates and tourists. When the demand for his artworks increased Tingatinga involved his relatives and close friends. They called themselves 'Colour Artisans' as they did not consider themselves as Artists. Their style became so popular that it started a wide movement of imitators and followers ‘The Tingatinga Movement’ – a Flourishing Folk Craft Art in Tanzania.
Tingatinga’s artistic life was short and he left only a relatively small number of paintings which were much sought after by collectors and they come with a price. It is however well known that many fakes were produced from Tingatinga’s famous paintings as the lion, the peacock, the leopard and buffalo and were signed: E. S. Tingatinga. Authentic Tingatinga paintings are virtually hard to find, they are either with first hand buyers or in collections.
This first generation of Tingatinga artists included Simon Mpata (1940 – 1982), Kaspar Hendrick Tedo (1921 – 1981), Mandu Adeusi (1914 – 1940), Hashim Mruta (1937 – 1998) and Omary Abdallah Amonde (b. 1940)
Mohamed was born in 1947 in southern Tanzania. He belongs to the second generation of the Tingtinga movement. He learned painting from Hashim Mruta, who was a first generation Tingatinga painter. In Charinda’s paintings the village scenes or the stories have a narrative or educational message. He also depicts the legend of Makua Inferno, where all the bad people (thieves, criminals, etc) are tied together and transformed into semi-animal devils - shetani.
Charinda was the first painter of the Tingatinga school to change from masonite boards (ceiling boards) to textile canvas in 1989.
(1934 – 2005) was born in southern Tanzania.
Inspired by the spirit world of his Makonde tribe, shetanis – grotesque devil creatures – are depicted in virtually all of Lilanga’s paintings taking over the daily life in rural African villages.
Although Lilanga was not part of the Tingatinga Movement, he knew the pioneers and associated well with them. Some of Tingatinga’s influence is evident in Lilanga’s paintings.
Lilanga belongs to the early pioneers of East African contemporary art, he has gained international reputation and is represented in many African art collections in Europe, the US and Asia.
1. Are Tingatinga fakes a problem today? Alexdrummerafrica.blog.com-2012
2. Tinga Tinga, the popular paintings, Y. Goscinny and Art in Tanzania 2001, Y. Goscinny
3. Tribute to George Lilanga, Yves Goscinny 2001. .