George Lilanga was born in Kikwetu, southern Tanzania, in 1934 and passed away in 2005. Like most Makonde youngsters Lilanga learned to carve on soft cassava root. He graduated to ebony and other dark hard woods made famous by Makonde artists. He moved to Dar es Salaam where he joined a group of carvers. He added drawing to his repertoire, producing work used on batiks, on murals on canvas as well as paintings on goatskin.
In 1978 Lilanga achieved international recognition when his paintings were included in a Washington DC exhibition. It was there that a budding pop artist called Keith Haring confronted the vibrant art form called Tingatinga with its Lilanga variant - canvases shot with vibrant colours and swarming with figures in rhythmic movement representing the Mapico dance, typical of his home area.
Years later Haring acknowledged it was Lilanga’s art that inspired his own art style.
Gallery Watatu Ltd
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