New faces among the Lilanga group artists

Vinta Malaba in December 2008 at Malaba studio

Up to now I have met 11 artists who has directly participated in creating the art known Lilanga Art. As my interactions with the artists continue I will gradually add more facts on the website www.lilanga.org. I hope that the Lilanga website will reveal new talents and hopefully will give credit to more artists than only George Lilanga. Already Agustino Malaba enjoys some recognition as he was teacher of George Lilanga and to my knowledge has considerably influenced the style. According to him he never got any sketches from George Lilanga as instructions for what and how to carve. The only “instruction material” came sometimes in form of photos of previous works which were successful and thus “ordered” by customers again.

But Agustino Malaba is not the only skilful “Lilanga artist”. Much credit should be given to his son Vinta Malaba. He was carving many Lilanga figures and I witnessed in December 2008 that his works were of high quality. You can see some of his works selling on internet. For instance on www.shikra.de (see the statues here – active to 5th January 2009) the first statue is not done by Agustino Malaba but by his son Vinta Malaba and no instruction from George Lilanga were used. This is what both the father and the son aggreed on . So Vinta is a very skilful young sculptor; he is 23 years old so he started to carve as child.

The other “new found” skilful sculptor is John Saudi working closely with Lilanga family. Still he creates new high statues (see photo) and still he sign as Lilanga. As you see on the photo (taken in December 2008) he works in original Lilanga studio together with Lilanga´s children. I found him in an interesting way. I asked Mr. Malaba about a statue with two heads sold at e-bay. He laughed and told me that it was done by John Saudi but he tried to carve three heads as Malaba himself did but he (John) failed. (see the statue on e-bay - still active on 5th January 2009)

John Saudi, December 2008 at Lilanga studio

The interesting issue is signing the work. While Mr. Malaba is understanding that it is not longer desirable to sign “Lilanga”, this group of artists has another opinion. John told me: “I cannot put my name on the art work because it (the work) is not mine idea. It is property of Lilanga family. As I carve a Lilanga statue I show respect and responsibility signing “Lilanga”. Needless to say that the sign is completely same as the “old” Lilanga sign.

These two artists have since Lilanga´s death split. I regard them as members of two different groups. Namely the “Lilanga group” and the “Malaba group”. The third group is then the “Hendrick group” (Hendrick Lilanga is considered to be G.Lilanga´s sonson).

Until now I know about 14 artists whom I divide in these groups

1. George Lilanga
2. Mateo
3. Valentino +
4. Robert Karinto
5. Amande Karinto
6. John Saudi

7. Agustino Malaba
8. Vinta Malaba
9. Tobias Stephano
10. Kapelo Shaban
11. Hendrick Lilanga
12. Bakari
13. Mchimbi
14. Noel Kapanda

So far 11 artists are documented by photo on www.lilanga.org. Costa and Bernard Lilanga, children of George Lilanga are not included in these groups because they started to carve after George Lilanga´s death.