MALANGATANA, Valente Ngwenya (1936-2011)

Oil painting on canvas, signed lower right
200 x 400 cm
Date of entry at UNESCO
Country of origin Mozambique
Donation made to UNESCO by the artist on the occasion of his nomination as «UNESCO artist for Peace» during the 29th session of the General Conference. The work was created in situ at UNESCO by the artist, and donated in the presence of the President of Mozambique.
© Photo : UNESCO
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Artist Biography

Valente Ngwenya Malangatana is probably the most known Mozambican artist on an international level. He was born in 1936 in Southern Mozambique, in the village of Matalana, where he went to elementary school provided by Protestant missionaries, a rare opportunity at the time; he later attended Catholic school. He was howeverat the same time initiated to ancient customs and learned about certain elements of traditional medicine from his aunt, his uncle and his grandfather. He began his artistic studies under the artist João Aires who was part of the circle "Nucleo de Arte"; he also took decorative painting lessons from the painter Garizo do Carmo. His work became known to the general public thanks to an art fair held in 1959, and then with his solo exhibition held two years later. The publication of his poems in the literary journal "Black Orpheus" and in an "Anthology of Modern Poetry from Africa" in 1963 brought him recognition. The Portuguese secret police however, suspecting him of sympathizing with Frelimo, imprisoned him for 18 months.

Following the independence, he received several public commissions and contributed to the establishment of the National Museum of Art, the Centre for Cultural Studies and the Centre for the Arts. He was one of the founders of the "Mozambique Movement for Peace", although one of his most interesting projects was the Association for the Matalana Cultural Centre. He successfully participated in the exhibition at the Arts Pavilion in the Universal Exhibition of Seville in 1992.

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