Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Tinga Tinga

from here

illustrations from Indigo Arts

Tinga Tinga Paintings from Tanzania
Tinga Tinga painting began with Edward Saidi Tingatinga, who was born in 1937 to a family of subsistence farmers in southern Tanzania. In 1953 he traveled to Dar-es-Salaam in search of work and labored at odd jobs in the construction industry until 1961. Impressed by the ease with which western style paintings by Zairian artists sold to tourists he decided to try his hand as a painter. since he could not afford to purchase art supplies, he began with scavenged materials, painting on discarded ceiling boards using dregs of bicycle enamel, household paint and old paintbrushes. Despite this unpromising beginning, he quickly developed a new and unique artistic style. His colorful, crowded paintings depicted fantastic animals and birds, dancing tribespeople and scenes of village life. His lack of formal training led to a simple, direct and naive approach to natural subjects, lacking in nuance and detail but bursting with exuberant life, whimsy and color.
The paintings sold well and Tingatinga recruited members of his family to copy them. Early Tingatinga paintings show flat, two-dimensional animals painted against a plain background. Each is related to a legend or saying from Tingatinga's Makua tribal culture. Though the subject matter is rural, the painting is a distinctly urban art form, evolved on the streets of Dar-es-Salaam and conceived not as a means of personal expression, but as a method of earning money. With its cheerful subject matter, Tingatinga's art was calculated to appeal to the romantic notions of African life held by tourists.
In 1972, in the midst of a burgeoning artistic career, Edward Tingatinga was shot dead by police in a case of mistaken identity. His fellow artists in Dar formed the Tinga Tinga cooperative in his name, and the style he originated became a school of painting for artists from Dar and Zanzibar. Today, the Tinga Tinga artists working in Dar and Zanzibar produce paintings faithful to the generic Tinga Tinga themes of big game and birds. Zanzibari artists have influenced traditional Tinga Tinga themes, adding fish, monkeys, coconut palms, musical instruments and people. Current Tinga Tinga artists paint on stretched muslin and canvas. Many uphold the tradition of painting only with bicycle enamel. The paintings are popular in Japan, Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland as well as the USA.
Biography adapted from text by Styche & Associates.

I was reading about a wonderful animation project in the Guardian

when the word Tinga Tinga caught my eye. I have a real love of all things multi cultural, we celebrate with the students as many festival as we can from Diwali to our most recent Earth Day. So I am always on the lookout for new material to diversify our already bulging resource collection.

This is one of the greatest pleasures of the job, We have a very loose curriculum and I love to change focus every year. So My eyes lit up at the idea of Tinga Tinga, and my search did not let me down as you can see by the images. But what a sad ending, I nearly cried.

To snuff out the life of a person who had, what was obviously such a joyous lust for life is heartbreaking. So many artists take for granted access to good quality materials and yet so much beauty here comes from so little. I am so pleased that Lauren Child has started this project, she is a real tour de force in children's illustration you can read a recent interview here

Memorably, she failed to get into Brighton to do illustration. They dismissed what has since made her name: her way of mixing text and image. She could not draw, they said. She could not write. She was not funny.

Although she was not around when I was reading to Daisy and Kitty. Leyla has every book and they are beautifully written and illustrated. I am amazed Brighton had such a narrow minded view, but again it shows you can overcome huge obstacles if you rally want to.


materfamilias said...

Like life, your post mixes together tragedy and sheer exuberance all within a short space. You're always introducing me to something new -- I think your students are very lucky!

African Painting Art said...

Tanzanian painters include Edward Said Tinga Tinga. Tinga Tinga is the famous African Paintings Painted with special paints on canvas. Mostly Tinga Tinga Paintings Motives are Animals and flowers in colorful designs. Paintings style started by Mr. Edward Saidi Tingatinga.