Inferno signed and dated 'Malangatana 1968' (upper right) oil on composition board 73 x 90cm (28 3/4 x 35 7/16in).
Malangatana was born in Matalana, a village near Marracuene, and spent his childhood as a herdboy and attending local mission schools before finding work as an empregado (houseboy) in colonial Maputo. He took art lessons at night school and his work was first exhibited in 1959. In 1964, during the colonial period, Malangatana was accused of involvement with the revolutionary movement FRELIMO (the Front for Liberation of Mozambique) and was arrested by Portuguese military police and imprisoned for two years. This time was to have a profound effect on the artworks he later produced. Post-independence, he served as a FRELIMO deputy for four years and later was a member of the Maputo Municipal Assembly.
"Most of the paintings and drawings Mr. Ngwenya did during this period were a direct response to the violence he witnessed. Densely packed with figures, they presented lurid, Boschian visions of the Last Judgement and the torments of hell rooted in images related to healing and witchcraft remembered from childhood."
BIBLIOGRAPHY: H. Cotter, 'Malangatana Ngwenya, Mozambican Painter and Poet, Dies at 74', The New York Times, 8 January 2011