An exhibition by pioneer artists from Tanzania opened on Sunday for a three-month run at Nairobi Gallery, Nairobi.
For several months now, the gallery has been showing works from second and third-generation Tinga Tinga artists, those artists who followed in the footsteps of their mentor, the famed Edward Saidi Tinga Tinga. Saidi is a former bicycle painter, who painted on the old Masonite ceiling boards of colonial houses in Dar es Salaam. His work drew an appreciative audience and soon, he had recruited others to follow his naïve colourful style using enamel paint.
Today, there are dozens of artists producing artworks in this uniquely East African genre, which has spawned children’s books, TV serials and even a broadway musical. Sadly, Tinga Tinga was taken away from us in a hail of police bullets at only 40 years of age in l976, but his style lives on.
Other Tanzanian masters have taken over at Nairobi Gallery to continue The Legendary Artists of Tanzania exhibition. Artists attending include Robina Ntila from the famed Nyumba ya Sanaa studio-cum-art colony in Dar, and Muzu Suleiman, a skilled painter and framer, whose family hails from Zanzibar.
Also on display are an array of other artworks, including the distinguished colorful artworks of George Lilanga, his son Hendry and his grandson Coster; the expressions of Tanzania culture in oils and prints by pioneer artist Robino Ntila, the realist painting of a sinking ship representing the nation of Tanzania off course by Claud Chantanda, the whimsical painting of “Grace and her Thoughts” by Mohamedi Chiminda, the masterful “African Bride” by pioneer artist Prof Elias Jengo from Dar University , even the landing of Aliens on earth and prints and woodblocks from the masters Malaba, Kiiza, Lilanga, Wanyama, Saudi and others.
There are works for every pocket, from Sh10,000 for a woodcut to an original enamel painting on Masonite board by ES Tinga Tinga for Sh 1,000,000. The exhibition runs through January 13 at the Pioneer Gallery, where Alan Donovan of the Murumbi Trust has been showing works by pioneer artists of Africa for the past nine years after rehabilitating the Murumbi African Heritage Collections, now on permanent display at the Old PCS Office in the centre of Nairobi.