fbpx Biennale Arte 2024 | Malangatana Valente Ngwenya
La Biennale di Venezia

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Malangatana Valente Ngwenya

Matalana, Mozambique, 1936 – 2011, Matosinhos, Portugal

  • TUE - SUN
    20/04 > 30/09
    11 AM - 7 PM
    01/10 > 24/11
    10 AM - 6 PM
  • Central Pavilion
  • Admission with ticket

Malangatana Valente Ngwenya, a painter, poet, musician, intellectual, and revolutionary, gave voice to the struggles of the people of Mozambique and Africa. To the Clandestine Maternity Home (1961), a pictorially dense composition, speaks to female oppression under colonial rule, the regulating of women’s bodies and reproduction, and the existence of underground maternity wards and abortion networks. The crowded canvas of superimposed, entwined bodies is dominated by the faces of tormented women from all walks of life. Their piercing gazes are directed at the viewer or to the side, signalling an awareness of their surroundings and the surveillant, regulatory male gaze. One of the dominant figures is an emaciated mother; the underdeveloped child in her womb is shown cradled by her mother’s hard-working hands and comforting arms. Unlike this malnourished expectant mother, their white counterparts are full-bodied. To the right, another tell-tale figure, a domestic worker with hair bound by a doek, breastfeeds an infant born of an interracial union (or rape) while quietly observing the remaining cast in the artist’s ode to maternity.

This is the first time the work of Malangatana Valente Ngwenya is presented at Biennale Arte.

—Nancy Dantas

Central Pavilion
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Biennale Arte
Biennale Arte