Last weekend we took a trip to MUSART, or Museu Nacional de Arte de Moçambique. We weren't really sure what to expect from it, but ended up very impressed. Free entrance was an added bonus.
Throughout the exhibit one is struck as much by the creativity and imagination of the paintings and sculptures as by the stark symbolism and dark implications behind many of the pieces. The dates of the works, most of which were done in the 70's and 80's, helps explain this: It was a time of revolutionary upheaval and civil war in Mozambique, and the implications of this are ubandantly portrayed in many of the sinister, mocking and ironic images. Sculptures of helicopters, fish and jungle creatures are made out of rusty ak-47 parts and broken bayonets. Paintings, such as the one above, portray a distinct social malaise, where alliances, loyalties and trust are all up for questioning.
I know too little about both Mozambique's modern history to give a proper critique of the socio-political context. I am also almost completely ignorant of the individual artists and their histories, but I will say that their works are both imaginative and well crafted. One cannot help but be lured into the emotional and psychological state that influenced these artists.