George Lilanga (1934 – 2005) is one of the most famous contemporary artists from Tanzania and one of the most celebrated artists on the continent. He was not a Tinga Tinga artist, but worked with them in Dar es Salaam and took over some of his techniques in his work.
Lilanga was a member of the Makonde tribe from southern Tanzania and Mozambique, who became famous in the sixties for their wildly fantastic ebony “shitani” demon sculptures. Lilanga began sculpting ebony in a refugee camp on the border with Mozambique. In 1971 he followed his uncle to Dar es Salaam and to an art center called Nyumba na Sanaa (house of art). He created his own unique style, different from the other Makonde artists, when he first painted his sculptures in bright colors, with the same glossy bicycle glaze as the Tinga Tinga artists.
He put his figures to two dimensions, painted in the same clear and bright glaze paint and even to etchings and lithographs. His universe of shetani spirits gives a lively and humorous impression and is immediately recognizable. It became a big trademark just like the graffiti-inspired figures of Keith Haring (with whom he was often compared).
Lilanga established his own studio and became a superstar in African art, which exhibited internationally until his death in 2005. Like E.S. Tingatinga, he became his work the inspiration for many other artists.
Statute: wood, paint. Hight: 53 xm
Statue: woud, paint. Hight: 66cm