Angola: Wisdom is like a Baobab 

Imago Mundi

Contemporary Artists from Angola

At times, history can surprise us. A case in point is Angola, now the destination of citizens from the former colonial power, Portugal, who emigrate here in search of a skilled job, while the former colony, rich in oil and diamonds, is investing large sums in the companies of the country that had dominated it for five hundred years. This unusual situation, although diminished in recent years by the global economic crisis, it is certainly anomalous on the African continent. The scenario is an effective illustration of the potential of this State, independent since 1975, which only overcame the affliction of a thirty-year civil war in 2002. Imago Mundi has explored the evolution of contemporary art in this land of challenges and promise, through the works of 140 artists on the small 10x12 cm canvases.

João Masala Tembo - Hope and peace of the old zungueiras (2015)

“There are two challenges in particular – notes Luciano Benetton, the creator of Imago Mundi - for a country where much of the population still lives below the poverty line and struggles to access education and healthcare: to build a sustainable growth model with the proceeds from the oil industry, (currently suppressed by the fall in the price of crude), enabling the reconstruction of the infrastructure system, and to diversify areas of production in order to fully exploit the country’s other major resources like diamonds, iron and its fertile and rich land, ready to be cultivated again, now that the country is at peace.”

Mercedes Francisco De Carvalho (Mac 33) - Memte Lfivre (2015)

Jeremias Palanga - United Nations (2015)

Angola's capital Luanda, on the Atlantic coast, is home to over five million of the country’s total population of around twenty-three million, and is the very symbol of the country's contradictions: in the center it boasts gleaming skyscrapers, built with Chinese capital, while the suburbs are home to over-crowded shantytowns. “Yet – adds Benetton - Angola, which possesses an abundance of natural beauty unmatched in Central-Southern Africa, has everything it needs to become a new frontier for tourism in the twenty-first century. The country offers immense, almost unknown, territories, isolated for decades from rest of the world, a diverse landscape rich in beautiful scenery. Tropical beaches between Luanda and Benguela, the Namibe desert, the mountain plateau in the province of Huíla, protected natural parks and the Kalandula Falls, the second the largest in Africa, an almost magical apparition that reveal themselves without warning inside one of the vast rain forests.”

Silvestre Kimbele - Chokwe Mask (2015)

Domingos António Ferreira - Fate Allegory (2015)

The desire for change is clear in the words of Antonio Tomas Ana “Etona”, Secretary-General of the UNAP, National Union of Plastic Artists of Angola and World Master in Painting and Sculpture. “Today – states “Etona” – we are in a more open position, with a market economy. The new council of the UNAP has had to adjust to reality and therefore changes were required almost across the board. It was not an easy task because of the “vices” inherited from colonial times and this causes conflicts between the old generation and the new generation.”

Albano Da Silva Cardoso - Flowers to the one I love (2015)

Selvestre Isaac Quizembe - Cultural influence (Kionda) (2015)

“As for the diversity of plastic arts in Angola – continues “Etona” - first of all we must be aware that every artist is a person, each with his own behaviour, and in this case the artist’s behaviour results in his way of being represented in the arts, each with his own differences. That's why we have identified the traits that may look similar, but then they find a line starting from the assumption that everyone is different, that's why when someone creates copies, you will find differences from the original; the same happens in crafts, and all this means that the expression of one or the other lies in the difference, and because life is dynamic, the artists do not stop. In this dynamic there is a metamorphosis, so that man makes the coexistence possible, he observes other phenomena. The phenomenon of today may not be the same phenomena of tomorrow, these are variables, and these changes can be found in painting, sculpture or other areas related to this context.”

Sozinho Lopes - Anxious dreaming of the 4th April (2015)

Leandro Vladimiro Da Costa Santos (Hemak) - Mind on high vibrations (2015)

Tiago Muachi Lachuma - Vivid Nature (2015)

The central role of the UNAP in the development of local artistic experience is highlighted by the art critic Patricio Batsikama: “In 2013 the institution launched a program entitled “Strategic Vision Development of Plastic Arts in Angola”, one of whose purposes is to create a functional system of Plastic Arts in Angola, to ensure human development and enable art professionals to support the “Culture of Peace” in Angola.”

Pedro Da Conceicao Filipe André (Pedro Tchivindo) - Hope in Abrim’s part II (2015)

Joaquim Pedro Teixeira (Tshombé) - National reconciliation of Angola (2015)

Victor Sebastião António (Vickson) - Luanda’s Bay at Night (2015)

“In this scenario of great artistic ferment - summarizes Luciano Benetton - the Imago Mundi collection contributes, amid references to the traditions of the homeland and Western influences, to the telling of a story that is also an invitation to view the country with completely new eyes. In the collection we find imagination, research, a strong affirmation of identity and, for those who are ready to see them, clues to a possible dialogue between cultures and peoples. As an African proverb says: wisdom is like a baobab tree, no one individual can embrace it.”

João Carlos Gil Lima Alves (João Granada) - You know, there’s no rich, there’s no poor, there’s no colour... in wishing infinity (2015)

Credits: Story

Project management
La Biennale di Malindi Ltd.

António Tomás Ana (Etona)

Project coordination
Abdulmalik Mabellini

Valentina Granzotto

Editorial coordination
Enrico Bossan

Luciano Benetton
António Tomás Ana (Etona)
Patrício Batsîkama

Translation and editing
Emma Cole
Sara Favilla
Pietro Valdatta

Special Thanks to
Fondazione Sarenco
UNAP (National Union of Plastic Artists)
Madalena Dos Santos
Luzia Feijó
Oksana Ignatush

Art direction
Namyoung An

Madalena Dos Santos (artists)
Marco Zanin (artworks)

Marco Pavan

Adao Joao Tomas Vista (Ntetembua), - The chant of the earth

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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