Tingatinga from Craft to Art

Tingatinga - from Craft to Art not only presents a modern African painting style, but also challenges the boundary between craft and art and between 'airport art' and genuine talent.

In the late 1960s an impoverished Tanzanian man realised that tourists and local ex-pats liked buying souvenirs from their trip to bring back home, and so he started producing paintings of animals to sell. His name was Edward Saidi Tingatinga, and at the time he did not know that this would be the beginnings of a unique African paining style, which has come to bear his name, and which continues to this day.

The exhibition in Portalen showcases the cheeky, humorous and colourful contemporary Tingatinga paintings that move between colorful kitsch and captivating art.

E. S. Tingatinga painted simple designs of African animals, birds on the savannah or situations from village life. Pragmatically, he used the materials at hand; enamel paint on hard board - creating his own distinctive expression of naive, colourful designs with glossy surface.

E. S. Tingatinga died from a stray bullet in 1972, but the unique painting style has been maintained and developed over the past forty years. The new generation of Tingatinga artists continued to paint with enamel paints, but have swapped hard board for canvas and added new, bold, colourful and humorous designs and detailed compositions.

Tingatinga - from Craft to Art not only presents a modern African painting style, but also challenges the boundary between tourist art and genuine talent. The Tingatinga style and the contemporary Tingatinga painters challenge the notion of art as a unique piece of work. Here paintings are mass-produced, copied, re-engineered to provide livelihoods for hundreds of painters and still the artistic level prevails. In other words the Tingatinga style challenges the common view of what constitutes quality art and the boundary between craft and art.

The first Tingatinga exhibition in Denmark took place in 1974 at the National Museum in Copenhagen. In 2010 thorupART organized a retrospective exhibition containting both original paintings by E. S. Tingatinga as well new Tingatinga paintings. It took place in the Round Tower in Copenhagen. The exhibition was accompanied by an exhibition catalogue of 120 pages, which was later published as the hardback Tingatinga: Kitsch or Quality. Bicycle enamel on board and canvas.

Many paintings as well as the book will be on sale at Portalen. The book is also available from our online shop.

The exhibition is a collaboration with the Art Association Køge Bugt.

Private view: Saturday 2nd March at 2pm


Download press release (Danish) and/or press images

Poster for Tingatinga from Craft to Art

Dates & Locations

map of location

2nd March - 14th April : Greve
Portalen Greve Teater & Musikhus, Portalen 1, 2670 Greve, Denmark

Opening hours:
14:00-17:00 Thursday - Friday
13:00-17:00 Saturday
12:00-15:00 Sunday

Closed: Monday - Wednesday

Tingatinga book

Tingatinga Exhibition Catalogue
The Tingatinga hardback is available in our shop



Rashidi Mzuguno
Omary Ally
Saidi Omary


Kunstforeningen Køge Bugt