Daniel Augusta, the owner of the website with Martina Tingatinga, the only surviving child of Edward Saidi Tingatinga. She is also the only Tinga Tinga painter who has link to the Ndonde art community in Ngapa - the original Tinga Tinga Art.
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PAINTED WITH NATURAL SOILS
PAINTED WITH ENAMEL COLORS
In 2015, for the first time in history, the origin of Tinga Tinga art was unveiled. The Tinga Tinga art comes from the village of Ngapa situated in southern Tanzania. The glossy and colorful enamel paintings which are produced on the touristic spots in Tanzania are derived from the traditional mural art practiced by the Ndonde tribe. When Edward Saidi Tingatinga, a member of the Tinga Tinga clan from the Ndonde tribe arrived to the commercial city of Dar es Salaam, he continued in the Ndonde art tradition.
But in the city, he used other medium - not soil but enamel colors. Suddenly, he was killed in 1972 and for 44 years, the traditional Ndonde art was ignored and maybe even hidden to us. But astonishingly, still a half century after Tingatinga's death, the mural art continues to thrive in the isolated villages in south Tanzania. The artists apply colored soils, ash and charcoal to the flat walls of the grass tatched huts. They paint objects seen in their surroundings, including airplanes and helicopters, the only attribute belonging to the the world "outside". Most of the paintings deal with the people and the wild animals. The popular leopard paintings seen in the "commercial" Tinga Tinga art were also found on the hut walls.
The core of the Tinga Tinga clan comes from the village of Ngapa. Most wall paintings were found in this village. On 15 December 2015, the Santesson workshop was founded with one aim - to transfer the mural paintings to the canvas. The workshop was successful. The traditional artists started to apply soils, ash and charcoal on canvases. In that way, the paintings are part of the aboriginal Tinga Tinga art which was brought to us 40 years ago by one of the community's member, Edward Saidi Tingatinga.
The move from the hut walls to the canvas wasn't straight. First of all - the artists had to learn to use the brushes as they only use their bare hands and fingers when they paint the wall paintings. Even the medium posed a lot of questions. Would the soil really attach to the canvas? In fact, the artists experimented with the oil colors first! Only later it was realized that the soils would pass the test if a certain adhesive was added to the soils. The teaching process was lead by an experienced art teacher Nangida Masawe who came from Dar es Salaam and stayed with the traditional Tinga Tinga artists for about 3 weeks.
The name Santesson is derived from the Swedish patrons of the research project, Berndt and Kerstin Santesson. They love the colorful Tinga Tinga paintings but always wondered as many other art lovers around the world where the Tinga Tinga art comes from. Apart the research project, they also helped to buy the art materials and covered the running costs of the workshop. The spaces for the workshop were provided by a Ngapa businessman known as Richy. His premises served also as a base camp for the research expeditions to uncover the mural art. The art teacher Nangida Masawe painted the Santesson workshop in the Tinga Tinga style.
The Ngapa region is rich in different kinds of soils. The main types of soils are red (high prevalence of metals), yellow (high prevalence of Si) and brown (high prevalence of the organic material). There is also a black soil but since the charcoal is used instead, this type of soil isn't often utilized. The charcoal is sometimes substituted by the coal found in used batteries but this practice is discouraged as the aim is to use only natural materials. The white color is made from the ash. On isolated occasions, the use of plant pigments were also observed but still no research was done on the subject.
The soils are spread on the flat hut walls by hands to create almost life-sized paintings. but the canvases are much smaller so the brushes were introduced to the Ndonde community to achieve a better precision in the painting techniques. In fact, the brushes in the hands of the traditional Tinga Tinga artists started to generate details and patterns which could never be achieved by hands. The use of brushes was also justified by the fact that a new component was added to the soils, coal and ash - an adhesive. The adhesive's goal is to keep the material together when applied to the canvas. The adhesive is not essential for a painting made on a wall in a village so it is never used in wall paintings. But when used on canvas, it improves the durability of the paints.
This website presents the art works of the traditional Tinga Tinga painters for the first time in history. The mural art from Africa in general is very rich and has a long history. The first wall paintings were observed by the explorers like Karl Weule in 1906. The mural art was probably practiced for many hundreds of years but yet never exposed to the public.
Mr.Tingatinga continued to create art of his Ndonde community when he reached the city. But when he suddenly died in 1972, his art was widely copied by the Mlaponi family from the Makua tribe. Since the Mlaponi family had no artistic background, they failed to develop the art further. The "new" Tinga Tinga art got labels like "tourist art" or "air port art". These terms denote the fact that the "new" Tinga Tinga art's purpose is mainly commercial.
However it couldn't be more far from the truth - the "original" Tinga Tinga art has hundreds' years of tradition and lives its own life in isolated villages without the pockets of rich tourists. It was only the commercial Tinga Tinga art which was exposed for the last 40 years. The aboriginal Tinga Tinga art was hidden from the art lovers due to circumstances which will be revealed later.