Malangatanas Masterpiece


A decorated artist uses a Fiat 500 as his inspirational canvas to help raise funds for charity

To celebrate the official opening of Mozambique’s premier Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealership in Maputo on the 5th April, a very special Fiat 500 was revealed – a car designed and painted by award-winning Mozambican artist, Malangatana Valente Ngwenya.

The work, entitled “The Italian Woman” quite literally takes Malangatana’s artistic vision from the gallery and onto the street. Somewhat poignantly, the Malangatana 500 was the last piece ever crafted by the artist as he sadly passed away on the 5th January 2011.

The mobile masterpiece was unveiled at the dealership’s inauguration by relatives of Malangatana and the Ferreira Dos Santos family, the latter of course being the owners of the Maputo dealership and the patrons of this shared initiative.

The idea was conceived in the middle of 2010 when Malangatana met with the Ferreira Dos Santos family and it was decided to invest in a project of artistic and cultural import that would at the same time have a major beneficial social spin-off.

A brand-new Fiat 500 1.4 and all the art materials donated by Técnica Industrial, the company owned by the Ferreira Dos Santos family, served as the inspirational canvas for the artist’s imagination. Malangatana named the vehicle which he worked on in his final month of life in Maputo, “The Italian”.

Day after day, on his way to the dealership, where he worked under cover, he would announce that he had a meeting with his “Italian Woman”. The result is a striking fusion of Italian design and evocative African symbolism. The flanks of the 500 are adorned with mesmerising nature-inspired imagery; a unique touch embellishing the rear and the dashboard is Malangatana’s characteristically flamboyant signature embossed in aluminium.

“The Italian Woman” will go on show to the entire world on the

portal from the 5th May till the 6th June, by means of a virtual auction run by Sapo Mozambique, the media and technology partner for this initiative. All proceeds from the sale will go to the Malangatana Foundation, a charity which raises funds for needy Mozambicans.

According to a spokesperson for the Malangatana Foundation: “The recent death of Malangatana did not allow him to personally introduce his “Italian Woman” to the world.

That task instead fell to those of us that were closely involved with the project and, in a small way, allowed us to pay homage to an all-time great Africa artist, an icon in the Mozambican cultural landscape and, above all, an extraordinary human being. “The Italian Woman” is a crowning tribute to a memorable artist’s fruitful life and serves to commemorate and perpetuate his name in space and time.”

About Malangatana:

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya was born on the 6th of June 1936, in the district of Marracuene. He was a renowned Mozambican artist and poet, known internationally by his first name.

He produced and worked in various mediums, from painting, sculpture, ceramics, murals to poetry and music. His works revolved around political and historical happenings in Mozambique, focusing until 1975 on the injustices perpetrated by the Portuguese colonialism and the anti-colonial war.

Post independence, the focus shifted to themes centred on the civil war. After this period his work began to evolve around broader, universal themes, capturing life’s hardships and its heroic aspects; thereafter the 80’s were a more sensual period focusing on love.

Along the years, he had several personal exhibitions in Mozambique, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Chile, Cuba, United States, Spain, India, Hong Kong, Portugal and Turkey.

He was awarded the Nachingwea medal for his contribution to Mozambican culture and was made part of an official order of Infante D. Henrique in Portugal. In 1997, UNESCO named him “Artist for Peace” and was handed the Prince Claus prize.

He passed away on the 5th of January in Matosinhos, Portugal.

About Fiat & Alfa Romeo Maputo

Fiat & Alfa Romeo Maputo is part of the massive JFS Group, a Mozambican-based family company which was founded by Joao Ferreira Dos Santos over 100 years ago. The Group has interests in several industries including agriculture, metals and real estate. The automotive division with distribution rights for five different automotive brands falls under the Técnica Industrial banner.