Dossier MZ-0039 [Part 1]
Bertina Lopes (1926-2012) was an important Mozambican painter and sculptor, who spent much of her life in exile in Italy. She died in February 2012. Her artistic work, like that of many others of her generation, was infused with social criticism and Mozambican nationalism. She was born in the then Lourenço Marques, the daughter of a Portuguese father and an African mother, and left the country as a young woman to study art in Lisbon, where she came to know such figures as the expressionist Carlos Botelho (1899-1982), the surrealist Marcelino Macedo Vespeira (1925-2002) and others.
In 1953 she returned to Lourenço Marques and taught in a technical school for several years. She was strongly influenced by the cultural nationalism of the poets José Craveirinha and Noémia de Sousa during this period. In 1962 she won a scholarship from the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian to study ceramics in Portugal with the painter and tapestry designer Querubim Lapa de Almeida (b. 1925). However, persecution by PIDE of any form of nationalist sentiment led to her decision to leave for Italy. She settled in Rome in 1963 and remained there for the rest of her life. In several interviews in the Mozambican press in the 1980s, she spoke of the nostalgia that she felt towards the land of her birth [see below].
Above: the artist Bertina Lopes (1926-2012) was the daughter of a Portuguese father and an African mother, and together with such figures as the painter Malangatana and the poets José Craveirinha and Noémia de Sousa used her art as a vehicle for the expression of social criticism of Portuguese colonial domination.
In Rome, Lopes interacted with such Italian artists as the sculptor Marino Marini (1901-1980) and the anti-fascist painter Renato Guttuso (1911-1987). In the late 1960s she held her first Italian exhibition at the Galleria Astrolabio in Rome. She later exhibited at the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon, as well as in Angola, Cabo Verde, Luxembourg and Spain. She also exhibited in Mozambique.
Over the years Bertina Lopes received many prizes in recognition of her artistic integrity, her humanitarianism and her strong rootedness in African – and specifically Mozambican – culture. These included an award from the International Centre for Mediterranean Art and Culture (1975) and the Grand Prix d’Honneur from the European Union of Art Critics (1988) among others.
Bertina Lopes died on 10 February 2012 in Rome, Italy, where she had lived since 1963. She was 86. In his message of condolences, President Armando Guebuza described her as ‘a humble, creative, combative and generous woman, who always demanded of herself that she surpass her previous achievements’. Above: Mozambican television announces her death.
Bertina Lopes was married twice, firstly to the Mozambican nationalist, journalist and poet Virgílio de Lemos (b.1929), with whom she had two children. Her second marriage was to Franco Confaloni, an Italian IT specialist.
Lopes’ last public appearance was at the Venice Biennial in 2011. After her death, in April 2012, the intention was announced to turn her house in Rome into a museum dedicated to her memory. The Mozambican ambassador to Italy, Carla Mukavi, commented:
«Bertina Lopes é uma moçambicana que esteve sempre ligada a Moçambique e a sua casa esteve sempre aberta aos moçambicanos. Ainda não há uma ideia concreta, mas pretende-se que a sua casa se torne num museu e continue aberta para as pessoas visitarem as suas obras».
◊ 23 June 1981
Sinto-me de raiz africana: pintora Bertina Lopes desde ontem em Maputo. Notícias [Maputo] (23 June 1981). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 82 kb.
◊ 2 August 1981
Arlindo Lopes. Sinto nostalgia da minha terra: Bertina Lopes à «Tempo». Tempo [Maputo] no.564 (2 August 1981), p.50-54. In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 1.2 Mb.
◊ 2 July 1982
Arte de Bertina exposta na sua terra: Ministro Graça Machel inaugura certame. Notícias [Maputo] (2 July 1982). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 474 kb.
◊ 12 July 1982
Colóquio sobre arte a propósito da exposição de Bertina Lopes. Notícias [Maputo] (12 July 1982). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 584 kb.
Above: Bertina Lopes Dimensão, 1972.
◊ 17 December 1983
Bertina Lopes expõe em Luanda. Notícias [Maputo] (17 December 1983). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 48 kb.
◊ 1 April 1984
Arlindo Lopes. Bertina Lopes: apoio às artes plásticas moçambicanas. Domingo [Maputo] (1 April 1984). In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 465 kb.
◊ 21 July 1985
Teresa Sá Nogueira. As minhas raízes estão aqui. Tempo [Maputo] no.771 (21 July 1985), p.31-34. In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 820 kb.
◊ 10 September 2000
Augusto de Carvalho. Bertina Lopes vem aí: de que estamos à espera para lhe prestar uma grande homenagem? Domingo [Maputo] (10 September 2000), p.32. In Portuguese. Click here to download a PDF file, size 571 kb.
◊ 15 February 2012
Paola Rolletta. Bertina Lopes (1926-2012): a pinta de Moçambique. Notícias [Maputo] (15 de Fevereiro de 2012), p.4. Click here to download a PDF file, size 458 kb. The document also includes a box, «País perdeu um tesouro – Presidente da República».