The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today paid tribute to Valente Ngwenya Malangatana, a renowned Mozambican artist and UNESCO Artist for Peace, who died on Wednesday.
“With the death of Valente Ngwenya Malangatana, African art has lost one of its greatest talents,” said Irina Bokova, UNESCO’s Director-General. “He was not only a wonderful artist but also an ardent defender of peace.”
Malangatana, as he was commonly known, was born in the village of Matalana in the South of Mozambique in 1936. Renowned for his vast canvases toiles and frescos of colourful crowds, he was also recognized as a ceramicist, engraver, sculptor and poet, according to a news release issued by UNESCO.
After the independence of Mozambique in 1975, Malangatana received commissions for many public works, including the mural paintings of the Museum of Natural History and the Centre of African Studies at Eduardo Mondlane University.
Malangatana created a fresco in Maputo during the UNESCO Conference on Culture of Peace and Governance in September 1997. That same year, the agency designated him a UNESCO Artist for Peace. One of his works, entitled “Youth and Peace,” was donated to the agency and is exhibited at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
Malangatana’s works can be seen at the National Museum of Art of Mozambique, as well as in galleries and private collections in Angola, India, Nigeria, Portugal and Zimbabwe.
UNESCO Artists for Peace are internationally-renowned personalities who use their influence, charisma and prestige to help promote the agency’s message and programmes. They include Haitian author Frankétienne, the award-winning Philippine Madrigal Singers, Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango, Bangladeshi fashion designer Bibi Russell, and Brazilian musician Gilberto Gil.