Edward Tingatinga, the original creator of Tingatinga art, was born in Tanzania (near the Mozambican border) in 1937, and in 1959 he moved to Dar in search of work. After working initially on building sites, Tingatinga began painting murals on walls; progressing to boards and then to canvas, using extra glossy enamel paints that are used to gloss bicycles. Soon later, he began selling his artworks beneath a baobab tree in Oyster Bay, a rich suburb of Dar, which to this day attracts many tourists. Although he had no formal artistic training, his individual style brought him overnight success.
Edward Tingatinga soon took on several young apprentices and taught them his unique style. In 1972, after only four years into his discovery of art, he was shot dead. Police accidentally mistook his car as a getaway car in a local robbery.
Tingatinga’s students, however, continued his legacy and the use of his style. Soon they, too, took on apprentices and the vibrant figures and colours of original Tingatinga art spread further. The Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society was established six years after his death, and today has its home in Oyster Bay. It presently has 65 artist-student members, most of whom are illiterate with no education, but still demonstrate exceptional artistic ability. One of them is Daudi Tingatinga, who was two when Edward died. He continues to paint in memory of his father.
In 1977 a Swedish art-collector introduced the art to a gallery in Stockholm, where-after exhibitions spread to other European cities. Each painting that is exhibited and sold throughout the world tells a story, not only in memory of Edward Tingatinga, but also illustrating the natural beauty of our environment; preserving images of Tanzania’s identity in detail and vibrancy. Edward Tingatinga would no doubt have been surprised by the success of his legacy.
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