Charinda, 2017
Acrylic on canvas - 59.8х60
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Как видит путешественник?
(Fragment of a post from a Facebook page)
What is the Tanzanian woman thinking about?

A classic in the genre of Tingatinga from artist Charinda. One of his paintings is featured at the British Museum, and three others – in my collection. Shall we try and figure out what’s on the woman’s mind?

A grey-haired man sits on a chair, clearly the head of the family.

Kneeling before the man is his son – this a sign of respect and humility throughout Africa. He offers his father freshly brewed banana beer, and the father appears to be crossing himself before he accepts it. Many people think that Tanzania is a Muslim country, but in reality it’s majority Christian. A woman stands near with a child behind her back, extending a bowl. It looks like she also wants some of the beer.

However, in Africa women drink by passing a bowl around in a circle during ceremonies; drinking alone is frowned upon. I reckon that she’s offering him Ugali (a porridge) made from cassava, and in the meantime, a future Nyama Choma (fried chicken) is running about. She’s a daughter-in-law.

Another couple works in the field with hoes. The boy on the lady’s back is quite young, and is likely the old man’s second son. I make the following deduction: the subject of the painting is the old man’s daughter. She is thinking about how when her grey-haired father marries her off and receives ten cows as a bridewealth, she will also have to work her tail off for the father-in-law, and this prospect does not exactly thrill her. Is that why her face looks so concerned?
What does the expert say?
This work by Charinda, in the Tingatinga style, differs from earlier works by the artist, primarily when one considers the composition. That being said, Charinda’s general artistic style is preserved. In the painting, we do not see horizontal frieze-narrative lines, but instead a division of the canvas into relatively vertical MENU, the central one of which is occupied by the image of a woman. Despite the fact that the woman is located in an ornamental environment created by the artist through the rhythmic alternation of birds and plants, what’s important here isn’t really the woman, but her thoughts. The artist underlines this with the depiction of the woman’s head, where the viewer sees yet another narrative. That is, we see a painting within a painting. It’s a very interesting approach. Revealing information through the “small painting” fully lines up with the author’s method in earlier works (locality of color, frieze-like imagery, absence of perspective). And there, in the main work, on a large scale, we see the author’s relatively picturesque drawing (multi-colored gradation) united with naive imagery. On the whole, it’s a harmonious work and fosters sympathetic emotions. 

Olena Polovna-Vasilieva, artist, M.F.A., Associate Professor at Oles Honchar Dnipro National University, member of the National Union of Artists of Ukraine
And what do you think?