Mario Arroyave - MAKONDE - Tree of Life

Photographs by Mario Arroyave
April 16, 2016 - May 06, 2016
Cra. 16 #86A-31, Bogotá, Colombia

A tribute to the history of the Makonde tribe

Beatriz Esguerra Art is pleased to announce its current individual show, “Makonde – Tree of Life,” with photographs by the artist Mario Arroyave. Following extensive travel throughout Africa, in particular Tanzania, where the photographs were taken, the artist was struck with a particular fascination for a tribe known as the Makonde.

Thanks to a secret pilgrimage down the Ruvuma River, the Makonde tribe was able to avoid colonialism for various centuries. Their nomadic character saved their culture from being attacked by the Arabian and European invaders whom had inflicted havoc on Tanzania and Mozambique since before the 21st century.

It was not until the 1930s that the tribe came into contact with settlers from Portugal, whom went on to discover the tribe’s artistic traditions and immediately began to exploit them. The pressure imposed by the colony essentially helped improve the Makonde tribe’s abilities and in the 1950s emerged the Trees of Life, sculptural pieces that manifest as representations of life and death. Over the years they further evolved artistic traditions that evoked the strength of the community and faithfulness to original beliefs. The Makonde gained their independence from the Portuguese in 1975 thanks to the Frelimo guerilla, which was financed in great part by their artistic creations.

Inspired by these Trees of Life, which express how the tribe survives by working with nature and supporting each other across generations, Mario Arroyave has created photographic compositions inspired by the animal fauna that has accompanied the Makonde throughout their history as a nomadic tribe.