Part of the African diaspora, Bertina Lopes’ innovative and socially engaged practice revolutionised modern African art. Born to a Mozambican mother and a Portuguese fieldworker father, Lopes is considered a pioneer of contemporary African painting.
Due to her association with the Mozambican Resistance (1954-61) against the Portuguese colonial powers, Lopes was forced to leave Mozambique and move to Rome in 1962. The events reinforced Lopes’ sympathy for the oppressed fringes of the population – a subject that would often recur in her art. During this period of her life, cultural nationalism became a large influence for both her artwork and personal ideology. Combining Western influences and African primitivism, her original and explosive use of colour and themes result in unusual abstract constructions, in which she uses recycled materials to create figurative tableaus.