TINGATINGA 2010 : KITSCH or QUALITY
Bicycle enamel on hard board and canvas
An exhibition of brilliantly coloured, cheeky bicycle enamel paintings from Tanzania.
The extraordinary tale of Edward Saidi Tingatinga, who converted his courtyard into a painting workshop forty years ago, creating the unique paintings style, which later came to bear his name.
The Beginnings Of An African Art Style
Working as a nighttime cleaner Edward Saidi Tingatinga struggled to support his family. In desperation for more income and inspired by the sight of tourists buying small, sugary paintings on the streets of Dar es Salaam, he converted his kitchen courtyard into a workshop and began to paint. He used what was at hand – high gloss bicycle paints and inexpensive ceiling boards, on which he painted simple renditions of the animals of his childhood.
A stray bullet killed Tingatinga in 1972. He had painted for only four years when he died, but his distinctive style marked the beginning of an African painting style that has been carried forward by painters till this day.
Wild Animals And Big City Life
The Round Tower exhibition shows the development from the early beginnings till today, where the third generation of Tingatinga painters carry forward the Tingatinga style with new, cheeky, colourful and witty motives and detailed compositions - the exhibition also includes works by the famous George Lilanga. Tingatinga himself only painted extremely simple motives, often a lone animal on a monochrome background. In contrast today’s canvases are filled by an explosion of animals and birds. New motifs have been added, ranging from village tales to city life, African fables, tropical fish, and wild life at the foot of snow clad Mount Kilimanjaro. The paints used are still high gloss enamel paints, giving the paintings their characteristic brilliant surface and the colourful, stylized, graphic expression so typical of the Tingatinga style.
Can Art Be Mass Produced?
Tingatinga: Kitsch or Quality presents an African art style, but also challenges the prevalent view of what constitutes quality art. What is the borderline between mass production and originality, between skill, craft and art? Today’s Tingatinga artists break all western norms on the uniqueness of a work of art. Tingatinga paintings are mass produced, copied and further developed, they provide a livelihood for hundreds of painters, and still artistic excellence prevails, questioning our perception and understanding of originality and art.
Selection from the exhibition
Images taken from LARIDO Panoramy360