Red sunset is burning the skies over distant mountains of Kilimanjaro and Meru. On the savannah royal elephants, graceful antelopes and cheetahs turn their heads towards the viewer. Colorful birds form flowerlike designs. This is Tinga Tinga – the national pride of Tanzania.
Edward Saidi Tingatinga (1932–1972)
Edward Saidi Tingatinga was born in 1932 in a village called Namochelia, in southern Tanzania. A village by that name no longer exists. Today's settlements in that area include new villages, where members of Edward Tingatinga's family still live. Edward Tingatinga was born to a poor family. In the 1950s, Edward left his village and went to work in the plantations of northern Tanzania. Later, he was invited by his uncle to Dar es Salaam. At the same time he began experimenting first as a musician and in 1968 as a painter.
His paintings were made using recycled, low-cost materials, such as masonite squares, ceramic fragments, and bicycle paint. His style was naïve and humorous. Most of his subjects were typical African icons, such as wildlife or savannah landscapes.
Eventually, Tingatinga's paintings became very popular among European residents and tourists, so that he was able to work full-time as an artist. He later gathered a group of apprentices and followers that would later organize themselves into the Tingatinga Art Co-operative Society.
In 1972 Tingatinga was accidentally killed by a policeman who mistook him for a fugitive. The Tingatinga school survived, and grew in size and in relevance. Through Tingatinga's followers and imitators, the Tingatinga style gradually became the prominent national type of Naïvistic paintings in Tanzania.
The Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society
After Tingatinga's death, his followers Ajaba Abdallah Mtalia, Adeusi Mandu, January Linda, Casper Tedo, Simon Mpata, and Omari Amonde organized with the relatives of Tingatinga. This group was called the "Tingatinga (or Tinga Tinga) Partnership". In 1990, the Tingatinga Partnership constituted itself into a society, renamed to Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society (TACS). Today, the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society is world known for its high quality art and for the popular animations by BBC and Disney Productions.
The exhibition has been produced in cooperation with Naivistit Iittalassa foundation, Kristiina Lähde and Minna and Petri Takala.