Malenga - Sculpture

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Malenga was born in a small village in northern Mozambique, in the heart of the Makonde region, probably a couple of years after the country’s independance. About 16 years later, in the city of Pemba, Malenga follows a deeply rooted family tradition by becoming a sculptor. Two years later he moves to Maputo where he starts working at the Makonde Art Cooperative, to later become a member of Mozambique’s National Art Museum artists collective. In 2007 Malenga is awarded a scholarship that leads him to attend an internship at Ar.Co (Center for Art and Visual Communication), in Lisbon and in 2008 the Faculty of Fine Arts of Oporto, both in Portugal. He exhibits collectively since 1992 and individually since 2005, in Portugal and abroad, and his work is represented in public and private collections around the world. He is also a painter and musician.

1974, Mozambique Lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal Formation 2008 Internship at the Faculty of Fine Arts/ Oporto, Portugal 2007 Internship at Ar.Co / Lisbon, Portugal Individual exhibitions 2014 Dinembo / Vestígius / Lisbon, Portugal 2013 Makonde People / Prague Botanical Garden / Czech Republic 2012 Entre a Árvore e a Alma / World Legend Gallery / Lisbon, Portugal 2012 Ínfimos infinitos / Lisbon, Portugal 2010 Auge latente / Lisbon, Portugal 2008 O Testemunho dos Tempos / Helsingborg, Sweden 2007 Junção de Extremos / Terras de Bouro, Portugal 2005 Mas É o Meu Povo / Hotel Avenida / Maputo, Mozambique Art in a Public Space 2009 Freedom Festival / Portugal 2010 Boom Festival / Portugal Public Collections Italian Embassy in Maputo/ Mozambique Mozambican Embassy in Lisbon/ Portugal Bank BIM / Mozambique Tribunal de Contas /Mozambique Culture Ministry/ Mozambique Private Collections Mozambique / USA / Australia / Portugal / France / Germany / Italy / Sweden / Czech Republic/ Brazil / Uruguay / Argentina


Some collective exhibitions in Portugal 2014 Exposição Solidária Juntos Contra a Fome / Sesimbra 2013 Artistas da Lusofonia at Casino Estoril’s Art Gallery 2012 Mozambican Embassy / Lisbon 2012 C. C. Apolo 70 Art Gallery / Lisbon 2011 Mozambican Embassy / Lisbon 2010 Origens at Makala Association / Lisbon 2010 Ajuda-me a sorrir Mãe / Oporto 2010 Ajuda-me a sorrir Mãe / Aveiro 2009 Centro Cultural de Mala Posta / Lisbon 2009 Mozambican Embassy / Barcelos 2009 Palácio dos Congressos / Lisbon 2009 Mozambican Embassy / Lisbon 2008 Saberes do Campo / Lisbon 2007 Palácio dos Congressos / Lisbon Some collective exhibitions in Mozambique 2005 National Art Museum / Maputo 2004 National Art Museum / Maputo 2003 National Art Museum / Maputo 2002 National Art Museum / Maputo 2001 National Art Museum / Maputo 2000 National Art Museum / Maputo 1996 A lei da sobrevivência / Parque de Campismo / Maputo 1996 ARPAC / Maputo 1995 ARPAC / Maputo 1994 ARPAC / Maputo 1993 FACIM – International Commerce Fair / Maputo 1993 Makonde Art Cooperative / Maputo 1992 Makonde Art Cooperative / Maputo 1992 Makonde Art Cooperative / Pemba

My work faithfully translates the essence of the Makonde art of carving – both formally, with the use of ancestral techniques, as conceptually, due to the ever-presence of my tribal legacy. The human face is to me today, as it has always been to the Makondes, an endless source of inspiration. Its expressive multiplicity is the most faithful reflection of the constant conflict between the internal and the external, the intimate and the social, the pure and the constructed. Hence it becomes clear the inevitable association between the human face and the mask, a connection that the Makondes masterfully explored, as the ancient Greeks before them. The mask as an extension of the face – imagined, constructed, forged – with its unescapable emptiness, the concave space of the concealed truth.

Therefore I say that the root of my figurative work is the Person, in its broader sense: literally through the face, and etymologically, through the meaning that the Greek word “persona” beholds.


Likewise, my non-figurative work also appeals directly to the collective imagery of the Makondes, who have in the genre they have called “Shetani” their favorite space for abstraction. Deriving from the English word “Satan”, Shetani is the name given to the evil spirits that allegedly roam through the cemeteries of oriental Africa – which in Makonde sculpture are traditionally represented by impressive vaguely anthropomorphic creations.

But the accounts of Shetani sightings (there are several!), suggest a more demure reality, describing a fantastic figure completely covered by fabric. My Shetanis are based on this source of information. For the sake of verisimilitude, my work never uncovers the other-worldly shapes I believe are hidden underneath the contours of the drapery I sculpt, and that I often cover in metallic or acrylic paint in order to ultimate the “false sensation” of unreal reality that the Shetanis must always provoke. Malenga



Judas tree wood 29x40x24cm

“Malenga’s work maintains the artistic honesty of his figurative imagery, with the magical depth of the ancestral memory of his people – but gains new contours





confrontation with new technologies and





contemporary” Carlos Barreira Professor at Oporto’s Faculty of Fine Arts

Jacaranda wood

MテグS AO MUNDO 85x15x15cm


Judas tree wood 40X21X30cm

“It’s that strength, of the tree that

became human and that is part of our






Malenga’s work. There is a loving process, a clear understanding of his craft, that allows him to respect the





through it” Emília Ferreira World Legend Gallery curator


Chestnut tree wood 30x18x18cm


Cork oak wood 72x19x19cm


Judas tree wood 39X33X14cm

Jacaranda wood

ONDAS DO ÍNDICO 72x19x19cm


Painted wood 72x19x19cm


Painted wood 72x19x19cm


Painted wood 70x24x14cm

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