The initial technique used to make Tinga Tinga Art

The initial technique used to make Tinga Tinga Art


Edward Saidi Tingatinga used very simple materials to produce his paintings, and they did not come from an art shop: the support chosen is readily available 3mm-thick compressed hardboard panels (4ft x 8ft) commonly used to cover the ceiling and known as "ceiling boards".

These panels present a rough side and a smooth one, this latter being the one used to paint because it offers a smooth, glossy coated and non-porous surface.

The paints are of the enamel type, with an oil-base composition and drying slowly (several hours) to give a shiny finish; they are in a liquid form, readily available from ordinary hardware stores in half-liter cans, and they come in a variety of colors.

They dissolve and wash in ordinary thinner, petroleum spirit or even kerosene. 

Today, bicycle paint is a good medium to work in when making clear, vibrant colored paintings that contain sharp contrasts, and still it allows for the ability to work with surfaces of harmonizing shades.

Since the paint does not dry very fast, it requires that the artist first paints the background, letting the paint dry before working on the actual motif.

This technique of letting the background dry, as well as the thick consistency of bicycle paint, are what make Tingatinga paintings so easy to interpret, since they display contours and clearly separated color surfaces.

The development assistance policies of the Scandinavian countries have, generally speaking, both invited and provided the economic prerequisites for cultural endeavors, to a larger degree than aid to Africa from other countries.
Tanzania and Mozambique are countries that have been of special interest to the Nordic countries, while the U.S. and the U.K. have remained somewhat outside of the independence movements of these nations, as well as their later socialistic development.

Tingatinga artists have been supported by the purchase of individual works and whole collections, as well as through the printing and sales of postcards. There have also been several exhibitions arranged in Scandinavia. During the 1980s the history of modern African art was written in English, e.g. the language that today is the prerequisite for any international spread of knowledge.

Familiarity with art movements such as Tingatinga, Ujamaa sculptures (which, like Tingatinga painting, is also based in Dar-es-Salaam with roots in Mozambique), Rorke's Drift in South Africa, the Poto-poto school in West Africa, and many other modern artistic developments, has been spread successively through the interaction between active artists and cultural workers from Europe and Africa.

The Anglo-Saxon academic world has not shown any great interest in them, nor are they written about very often in English-language cultural publications. The explanation is simple.

There is not enough of a connection to British colonial history. Historical writers have focused their interests either on movements where the initiative was either British or British-colonial, or on "non-colonial" Africa - the "inner" worlds of "foreign" cultures such as fetishism and shamanism.

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Size chart

Centimeters (CM)

Inches (IN)

50CM x 40CM

19 11/16 in X 15 3/4 in

60CM x 60CM

23 5/8 in X 23 5/8 in

70CM X 50CM

27 9/16 in X 19 11/16 in

80CM X 60CM

31 1/2 in X 23 5/8 in

100CM X 80CM

39 3/8 in X 31 1/2 in

140CM X 110CM

55 1/8 in X 43 5/16 in