Theses Doctoral

Art in Mozambique at the End of Socialism

Lima, Álvaro Luís

This dissertation analyzes art in Mozambique during the country’s transition from Marxist-Leninism to a multi-party democracy (1984-1994). The end of the socialist regime elicited diverse responses from Mozambican artists and art institutions, all of which tried to reconsider the recent radical past to suit the new political conditions of liberalization at the end of the Cold War. Part I of the dissertation focuses on the 1980s rehabilitation of artist Malangatana Valente Ngwenya, one of the first and most important figures in African modernism. Malangatana’s image as a national artist will be discussed alongside the emergence of the collective of art critics known as Rhandzarte, and the reconsideration of the state’s narrative of national unity. Part II looks at the artist Naguib Elias Abdula as an example of the move away from state patronage towards reliance on the private sector. Following the wide changes in its artistic values, Mozambique was the first African country to create an institution to foster corporate collecting in a state-owned initiative known as Horizon Art Diffusion. Part III will focus on the rise of abstraction in the late 1980s and early 1990s. While figurative works of art had been the norm since independence, the increased visibility of abstraction at the end of socialism shook the foundations of the country’s aesthetics. On the one hand, some abstract works can be seen as radical interrogations of what had constituted Mozambican art until then. On the other hand, much of the momentum of abstraction was a product of the Ujamaa workshops, which were modelled on the Triangle Art Foundation. In its significantly different political and aesthetic reverberations, Mozambican abstraction appeared as a definite break from the socialist past.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Strother, Zoë S.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 22, 2019