Art and Architecture in Mozambique

Art in Mozambique

Mozambique’s sculpture has a long and rich history. Wood carving works were popular with foreign missionaries and others, and they were also displayed at exhibitions in Europe.

Today’s sculpture is inspired by local wood carving art and traditional macaw sculpture. Newer motives are the horrors and poverty of war. Worth mentioning are Chissano’s (born 1936) three-figure groups, Naftal Langas (born 1933) softly-crafted characters who tell stories of love and family life, unlike Gowane’s (born 1954) violent, unruly works. Sansao Makamo (born 1957) is working on simplifying the human figure. Reinata Sadimbas (born 1945) pottery combines human and animal shapes with geometric design, and Massinguitanas (born 1926) surrealistic cement sculptures have attracted international attention.

The art of painting had its breakthrough after World War II with Bertina Lopes (born 1927) and Malangatana Valente Ngwenya (born 1936), who came to exert great influence. The guerrilla war in northern Mozambique in the 1960s resulted in brutal repression of the people. Inspired by the events, Malangatana painted Requiem for flower growers in a bomb-ravaged country (1981, Museo de Arte, Maputo), which shows composition similarly to the macaw sculptures, and is dedicated to Picasso. Younger artists in today’s Mozambique are preoccupied with their rich cultural heritage and political events in the near past.

Architecture in Mozambique

Traditional architecture in Mozambique consists mainly of round or square thatched cottages and Arab-influenced flat roofed houses. Portuguese rule brought European and Indian impulses both in construction technology and in decorative elements. In Nampula Province there is a 400 year old town, Ilha de Mozambique, with traditional palm-covered houses and brick buildings in Euro-Indian-inspired style. The city is on UNESCO’s List of World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

Maputo colonial architecture is found in landmarks such as the Mercado Municipal (1903), Casa de Ferro (an early 1900s iron building imported from Belgium), the railway station (1916) and Hotel Clube (1898), as well as functionalist buildings from the 1950s and high-rise buildings. from the 1960s.

Music in Mozambique