The influence of African art and imaginaries in the built work of Pancho Guedes in Maputo

Pedro Lima Gaspar


Non-European forms of art have made a deep impact on western sculpture and painting, as the circulation of engravings, photos and artefacts –from China, Africa and the Americas- gradually influenced late XIX Century artists such as Vincent van Gogh or Paul Gaugin. African art in particular directly inspired Pablo Picasso in ground-breaking works such as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon or changed the established canons of dance through the performances of Josephine Baker. Such influences were not so obvious in architecture, which followed the agenda of standardization, mass construction and modernism required after the destruction of Europe by two World Wars. In this context, it is particularly interesting the work of Portuguese born architect Pancho Guedes, who lived in Maputo, Mozambique, and incorporated images and influences of African Art in his vast production of drawings, paintings, sculptures and projects. In his projects and built works, Pancho Guedes invented several styles that echoed different imaginaries –from traditional Portuguese picturesque rural villages to Wrightian influences, and from sails and tents to African and free art inspired works that he referred to as “Stiloguedes”. In this paper, an analysis is made of the direct influences of an African imaginary in the architectural production of Pancho Guedes, still notably present in buildings in Maputo.

Palabras clave

Pancho Guedes; Architecture; Maputo; African imaginaries; African Art

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