Edward Tingatinga

Edward Tingatinga full names Edward Saidi Tingatinga was a Tanzanian painter born in 1932 and who is perhaps the only contemporary artist in the world with a painting style which is named after him, TingaTinga. Edward Tingatinga ‘s birth place was in a remote village in Southern Tanzania’s border with Mozambique called Ngapa. His christian mother was a Makua and his father came from an Islamic tribe called the Ndonde. It is for this reason he was given a christian name (Edward) and an Islamic name (Saidi) at birth.

In 1955 Edward Tingatinga arrived in the Tanzania capital of Dar es Salaam at the time Tanzania was called Tanganyika. He found work as a gardener with an English colonialist. In 1961, tanganyika gained indepence from the United Kingdom and Edward Tingatinga was encouraged by seeing artists from Zaire selling their work to foreign tourists along the roadsides in the new vibrant country. He started his own studio and working with Masonite board and commercial paint he began to create his first Tingatinga art works.

His inspiration for his work was sourced from anything and everything he saw around him from African birds, animals, landscapes and village life. His simple style of painting saw him arrange the elements of his compositions without perspective, this was naturally due to a lack of a formal art education. Using exaggeration of forms and patterns he emphasized the particular attributes of his subject matter. This naivety, freshness and complete lack of sophistication of approach engaged and resonated well with the European settlers.

Edward Tingatinga was accidentally shot dead in 1972 by a policeman’s stray bullet bringing an end to his rising career aged 40 years. The Edward Tingatinga school survived organized as the Tingatinga Art Co-operative Society. Most early members of this society were either relatives of Edward Tingatinga or of Edward’s wife Agatha Mataka. Notable early Tingatinga artists included names like: Omari Amonde, Mohamed Charinda , Maurus Malikita , Hashim Mruta , Damian Msagula, David Mzuguno , George Mpata, Peter Martin. These artists were responsible in ensuring that the Tingatinga school survived the death of Edward Tingatinga and and grew in size and relevance. Through Tingatinga’s followers and imitators, the Tingatinga style gradually became the prominent type of tourist-oriented paintings in both Tanzania, Kenya, and a large part of East Africa to this day.

Denmark was the first host of a Tingatinga Art exhibition outside Tanzania and this was in 1974 at the National Museum of Copenhagen.
In 2010 thorupART and Association Koge Bugt organised an exhibition/ retrospective showing Edward-Saidi Tingatinga originals art works and also featured new art works from the Tingatinga School.

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