John Renatus Kilaka
John Kilaka was born 1966 in a village in Southwest Tanzania. His tribe and mother tongue is Fipa.
As a child he went fishing and hunting with his father. But he was enthusiastic about drawing. During school time he annoyed the teachers by drawing on the blackboard and thus diverting his fellow students and using up the precious chalk.
After finishing school he first became a farmer, hunter and fisherman like his father. But when his older brother decided to leave to Dar es Salaam to seek his fortune, he joined him. It became clear to him that only in the capital his dream to make his artistic talent a profession could come true. He moved to Dar es Salaam and soon joined a group of painters in the "Village Museum", which had been founded in the 70ies. This busy place offers young artists the opportunity to learn and improve their artwork as well as earning some money by selling paintings.
Discovered and supported by Christine Hatz John Kilaka started early to illustrate picture books. Between 2001 and 2009 he published three stories. «Frische Fische», «Gute Freunde» and «Der wunderbare Baum» were all edited in German by Baobabbooks and have been translated into other languages since and were awarded with several Book Prices.
John keeps collecting traditional stories in Tanzanian villages and loves to tell them to children. School classes in many countries are enthusiastic about his art workshops and storytelling.
Slowly he started to develop a new style in the last years which moves away from the classical Tingatinga style. Also these rather cubistic artworks always tell a story.
Nowadays John Kilaka is one of the most famous Tingatinga artists. He has been invited several times to Switzerland, Germany and Scandinavia to present his artwork, teach his art and for storytelling. Together with Agnes Mpata he decorated the car of the Tropeninstituts Basel with animal motives in 2014.
If you are interested in John Kilaka's art work or workshops, just contact him by writing an e-mail to johnkilaka(at)yahoo.com.