Valente Malangatana Ngwenya

  • Born 1936 in Matalana, Mozambique
  • Died 2011 in Matosinhos, Portugal
  • Africa

In his work, Mozambican painter and poet Valente Malangatana Ngwenya, known as Malangatana, combined fantastical imagery with political themes. Trained as a traditional healer, he moved to Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) at the age of twelve to find work. After he discovered an interest in art, he began taking classes at the college Núcleo de Arte in the late 1950s. Malangatana achieved success in his twenties with vibrant paintings that spoke to the country’s oppression under colonial rule, such as the hellfire scene Juízo Final (Final Judgment). In 1963, his poetry was published in Black Orpheus magazine and in the Penguin Books anthology Modern Poetry from Africa. Malangatana joined the guerrilla group FREMILO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique) in 1964 and was later imprisoned for eighteen months. After receiving a grant from the Gulbenkian Foundation in 1971, he studied ceramics and painting in Portugal. Following the Mozambican revolution in 1974, he rejoined FREMILO, which became the ruling Communist Party. During the Mozambican Civil War, his work entered a “blue period.” Malangatana co-founded the Mozambican Peace Movement and helped to establish many cultural organizations, including the National Museum of Art in Maputo. UNESCO named him an Artist for Peace in 1997.

Artworks by Valente Malangatana Ngwenya in the exhibition