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Batik in Tanzania: Filex Jacobson Msalu

Madonna and Child, by Filex Msalu(2006), Batik, photo by Johan van Parys.
Madonna and Child, by Filex Msalu(2006), Batik, photo by Johan van Parys.

 

The blue glows as much as the warmer orange, in this portrayal of Madonna and Child by Tanzanian artist Filex Jacobson Msalu.  Batik is a process of applying wax and dye to fabric and then melting out the wax so more dye can be overlaid.   There is a burst of articles about him and his Sunshine Art Studio across from the Arusha Conference Center in Tanzania from 2005-2009, with details such as wanting to be an artist, and his father disowned him for refusing to become a driver or mechanic or something “useful,” then learning Batik, which was brought to Tanzania by Indonesian traders and missionaries.  A missionary inspired Filex to create traditional Biblical scenes with African settings.

I wanted to see what Filex is doing now, and could not find anything more recent than 2009.  There are still art galleries in Arusha, and classes tourists can take, but no mention of Filex.  I hope he is still making art.

Video of Filex Jacobson Msalu making Batik.

An Artist in Tanzania: Filex’s Batik Workshop

 

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