From the most humblest of beginnings, Edward Saidi Tingatinga, the founder of Tinga Tinga Art, born in 1932 in a tiny village called Namochelia in Mindu area, near the village of Nakapanya in the Southern region of Tanzania, slowly and subtlety began a nationwide movement in Tanzania that would revolutionize the way art would be made.
Tinga Tinga Art began as a simple idea: Use recycled, low-cost materials, like masonite squares, ceramic fragments, and bicycle paint.
His style was naïve, bordering on surrealistic and humorous; most of his subjects were stereotypical African icons, such as wildlife or savannah landscapes.
Edward's Tingatinga's paintings became very popular among European residents and tourists, and he was subsequently able to transition his previously part time job to a full time profession as an artist.
He later gathered a group of apprentices and followers, that would later organize themselves into the Tingatinga Arts Co-operative Society.
Some of Tingatinga's followers in the Society were Edward's or his wife's relatives.
In 1972 Tingatinga was accidentally killed by a policeman who mistook him for a fugitive.
The Tingatinga school survived, and grew in size and relevance. Through Tingatinga's followers and imitators, the Tingatinga style gradually became the prominent type of tourist-oriented paintings in both Tanzania, Kenya, and a large part of East Africa.
Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society
After Tingatinga's tragic death the painters organized themselves as a cooperative, the "Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society" (TACS), with the aim to continue the art of painting in its founder's sense. TACS was registered on 28th July, 1990. Today almost 100 painters work in the cooperative - including a few women.
Many regard themselves still as Tingatinga's successors, others experiment with new forms and motives.
On the one hand the cooperative operates as a painting school for the Tingatinga style of art, but on the other it promotes the art sales internationally to enable its members to earn their living.
Today, this artisan skill has evolved. The subjects have become more complex and take more time to make. Canvas is also used instead of masonite boards.
One medium sized painting can take as long as a week to complete.
Tinga Tinga Art is all about creating high quality art and paintings that everybody can afford.
The Tinga Tinga Tales
The BBC's hit show, Tinga Tinga Tales was inspired by the uniqueness of Tinga Tinga Art and is centered on various animated animals and employs music, dialogue, and colorful imagery to tell African folk tales about the origins of animals, and to answer questions such as, "why do monkeys swing in the trees and flamingos stand on one leg?
Today, the Tingatinga legacy continues to live on, with millions of paintings being sold to aficionados of its unique and flamboyant style.
Tinga Tinga Art on the Media
Tinga Tinga Art has gathered attention across the entire globe. A couple of years back, CNN's Inside Africa had a story on the Tingatinga Arts Cooperative Society.
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