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Modern African Art : A Basic Reading List

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Tanzania -- Tingatinga School

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Die Maler aus Msasani/Tansania; [exhibition, IFA Galerie, Bonn, February 24-March 21, 1987; text by Ingrid Jaax-Zimmermann]. [Bonn: Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, 1987]. [19]pp. illus. ND1097.6.T3M24 1987 AFA. OCLC 20583554.

Edward Saidi Tingatinga, a self-taught painter born in 1932 in a village in southern Tanzania on the border of Mozambique, hit upon a successful formula which quickly found a market in Dar es Salaam. Painting on square boards 60 inches x 60 inches, he created fanciful, colorful images of animals and people. Soon he attracted young followers and the Tingatinga school arose, based in the village of Msasani near Dar es Salaam. Although Tingatinga died in 1972, still relatively young, his vision lives on in works of Amonde, Mruta, Tedo and others. This 1987 exhibition in Bonn featured forty-five works of eighteen Msasani painters. Twenty-one black-and-white illustrations. See also the related article by Jutta Bender-Ströter and Helke Kammerer-Grothaus, "Die Quadratmaler von Tansania," Afrika-Post (Bonn) mai 1987, pp. 28-30.

Goscinny, Yves. Tingatinga: the popular paintings from Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: La Petite Galerie, 2004. 164pp. illus. (color), bibliog. (page 63). Text in English and Swahili. ND1097.6.T3G67 2004 AFA. OCLC 219751755.

Of all the Tingatinga books published to date, this is the most comprehensive and thorough. It delves deeply into the artist’s background, family genealogy, business relationship with the Tanzanian government’s cultural establishment, his painting techniques, and his original style. Interestingly, there is a discussion of his all capitols signature, comparing the authentic and the fakes (see page 47). Details of his untimely 1972 death and the aftermath are given. Clearly, we have a much fuller account of Tingatinga’s life and work.

The second half of the book addresses his enduring legacy starting with the five students he had begun to train in 1970 - - Mpata, Tedo, Ajaba, Linda, and Adeusi. This first generation trained a second generation of painters and soon the tight hold of Tingatinga’s closed circle opened up. The stylistic and thematic evolution of Tingatinga paintings following the death of Edward Saidi has not been well appreciated, but Goscinny makes clear that Tingatinga’s personal painting style was uncluttered, typically focusing on a single animal. Later Tingatinga followers greatly elaborated on this style by filling in the empty space with flora and fauna. More recently, urban scenes and narrative paintings have come to play an important part. Many more saw painting as a viable livelihood and joined in. Others saw possibilities by going independent. The Tingatinga school of art has become quite diverse, but remains a largely male enterprise. The Tingatinga Arts Co-operative Society in Morogoro handles sales and marketing. A Tingatinga who’s who concludes the book.

Hatz, Christine. Tingatinga: zeitgenossische Malerei aus Tanzania = Tingatinga: peintures contemporaine tanzanienne = Tingatinga: contemporary painting from Tanzania. Zurich: Helvetas Schweizer Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit, 1996. 44pp. illus. (color). OCLC 55135226. [not available for review]

Kunst aus Afrika: Moderne Quadratmalerei aus Tansania. Merseburg, Germany: Kulturhistorisches Museum Merseburg, 1994. 36pp. illus. (pt. color). ND1097.6.T3K86 1994 AFA. OCLC 61696943.

The Tingatinga group of artists thrives long after the death in 1972 of their namesake Edward Saidi Tingatinga. Originally a family enterprise, today it is a tourist industry, particularly popular among Europeans and Japanese. The repertoire of images in these brightly colored square-board paintings ranges from wild fauna to village scenes to more contemporary themes, such as AIDS awareness. This catalog of a 1994 exhibition of Tingatinga paintings held in Merseburg, Germany, includes essays by Jutta Ströter-Bender and Hans-Georg Sehrt outlining the history of this genre and discussing some of the better known painters.

Schaedler, Karl-Ferdinand. Die Tingatinga-Schule: Tanzanische Quadratmaler aus der Rosenfeld-Sammlung = The Tingatinga School: Tanzanian Square painters from the Rosenfeld collection / English translation, Geoffrey P. Burwell. Munchen: Panterra, c1998. 80pp. illus. (chiefly color), bibliog. (page 80). Text in German and English. ND1097.6.T3S33 1998 AFA. OCLC 40911149

The life of Edward Saidi Tingatinga was cut short in a 1972 car accident and shooting incident, which occurred just as he was achieving recognition for his square-board paintings. The informal painting school which bears his name has gained a foothold in the panorama of modern African art, and its practitioners continue to earn a livelihood from painting long after the departure of Tingatinga. The paintings are popular with non-African buyers, especially Europeans and Japanese, and there is evidence that stylistic elements and themes are geared to these foreign tastes. The sixty-three paintings illustrated in color in this book are from the collection of the Rosenfeld-Blank family, a German couple from Bad Kissingen.

Shiraishi, Kenji and Fumiko Yamamoto. Tingatinga = Teingateinga II: Jiyafuari no Afurika. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1992. 103pp. illus. (pt. color). Text in Japanese and English. ND1097.6.T3T58 1992 AFA. OCLC 28384335.

Jaffary Aussi, one of the more innovative among the younger generation of Tingatinga artists, has carried on the Tingatinga tradition with his own distinctive stylistic interpretations and experiments in color and perspective of distortion. Yet he remains firmly rooted in the original Tingatinga sensibility. Animals predominate in his paintings as they do in all Tingatinga paintings. In fact, it is the animal-man relationship that is one of the hallmarks of this informal school of painting founded (almost by chance) by Edward Saidi Tingatinga in Dar es Salaam in the late 1960s. Tingatinga and his followers are mainly Makua, and it is argued here that Makuan folklore and legends form a thematic base for the Tingatinga paintings, even amongst younger adherents, who are urban born and bred. Being related by blood ties and working closely together, Tingatinga painting is "family art."

The works of Jaffary Aussi constitute the centerpiece of this second Tingatinga book by this Japanese publisher. Yamamoto introduces the artist, and Shiraishi in his essay "Portraits of coexistence" elucidates the larger phenomenon of the Tingatinga school and, in particular, its founder E. S. Tingatinga (1937-1972).

Tingatinga 2010: kitch or quality: bicycle enamel on board and canvas / Tine Thorup; Cuong Sam. Copenhagen: Thorup Art, 2010. 114pp. illus. (chiefly color), portraits. ND1097.6.T3T56 2010 AFA. OCLC 670471874.

Foreigners have been buying Tingatinga paintings for the past forty years, and the Danish are no exception. The Tingatinga 2010 book and exhibition project is a collaboration between Denmark collectors and Tanzanian painters. As the title suggests, the question of “kitsch or quality” has bedeviled the Tingatinga art movement from the beginning. Curator Tine Thorup poses the question head-on: Can originality and authenticity co-exist with copying and duplicating? The reputation of Tingatinga painting as kitsch “overshadows the creativity, talent and originality of many Tingatinga artists” (page 8), yet they still find appreciative buyers.

A 1984 essay by Merete Teisen (originally published in Danish) offers an intimate visit to Tingatinga’s courtyard studio and her conversations with Eduardo Saidi Tingatinga. A postscript by Hanne Thorup and Chitra Sundaram summarizes what followed Tingatinga’s death in 1972. Thorup and Sundaram, moving in a new interpretative direction, speculate whether Makua and Makonde murals were a source of inspiration to Tingatinga. Before he ever painted on board, Tingatinga painted murals on two houses in Dar es Salaam in payment for rent. What led him to monetize his talent, however, were the Congolese street painters he saw in Dar es Salaam, selling to tourists.

Thirty-four Tingatinga painters representing several generations are profiled in this catalog.

Tingatinga: Afurikan poppu-ato no sekai / Kenji Shiraishi and Fumiko Yamamoto. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1990. 115pp. chiefly illus. Text in Japanese and English. ND196.P6T58 1990 AFA. OCLC 28834211.

Edward Saidi Tingatinga had a very brief artistic career, cut short by his death in 1972. However, he started an informal art movement that now bears his name, and it continues to be active in Dar es Salaam. The Tingatinga paintings are highly colorful and decorative images of birds (the most common subject), wild animals, daily life, and spirit figures (shetini, mganga, and mizimu). They are always painted in flat, bright colors and lack a depth perspective. In this volume, there are 146 paintings, all by Tingatinga's followers, reproduced in color.

Another thirty-six works of art of the Nyumba ya Sanaa group are illustrated. This group of self-taught Tanzanian artists specializes in batiks, woodprints and drawings, also made primarily for the expatriate market.