Bertina Lopes

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Bertina Lopes
BornJuly 11, 1924
Maputo, Mozambique
DiedFebruary 10, 2012

Bertina Lopes (July 11, 1924 – February 10, 2012)[1] was a Mozambican painter and sculptor. Lopes work displays a deep African sensibility with saturated colors and bold compositions of mask-like figures and geometric forms[2]. She "highlighted the social criticism and nationalistic fervour that influenced other Mozambican artists of her time"[1].

Personal Life[edit]

Lopes was born in Maptuto, Mozambique, on July 11, 1924 to her mother (African), whose family was locally known, and her father (Portuguese), who was a fieldworker. Bertina's passion and love for art ultimately laid her to both of her husbands. Her first husband Virgilio de Lemos who was a poet of Mozambique father her twin sons[3]. Due to his desecration of the Portuguese flag, and his fight for independence, Bertina believed this was a connection with the invasion of Africa. This forced Bertina to leave with sympathy for the weak and oppressed that are subject of her art work [4]. Lopes gained her Italian citizenship to further pursue her artistic background. She remarried Francesco Confaloni who was an art and music lover. Being in Italy, she was capable of meeting very important Italian artists, where she was able to incorporate conversation about her art work.

She returned to Portugal to study ceramics under Querubim Lapa de Almeida on a fellowship from the Gulbenkian Foundation, and chose to remain in exile, moving to Rome.[5] She lived there for the rest of her life, although in interviews she frequently spoke of her nostalgia for her homeland and later became a citizen of Italy. [5]Among her Italian associates were Marino Marini and Renato Guttuso. Artistically, Lopes found inspiration in the poetry of Noémia de Sousa, and incorporated social themes into her work. Her last public appearance was at the Venice Biennial in 2011. She died in Rome; after her death it was proposed that her house be turned into a museum [3].

Bertina's significance in art shows as she pays dues to Picasso, one of the many big faces of art and paintings [4]. During Picasso's passing, Lopes pays tribute with a intense painting that symbolizes political repression that Picasso fought in Spain [4].                                  


Lopes was one of three other siblings who received scholastic education. She received her first schooling in Maputo before earning a degree in painting and sculpture in Lisbon. It took Lopes two years to finish senior year and was able to accomplish secondary schooling while attending Lisbon [1]. This is when she met such figures as Carlos Botelho and Marcelino Macedo Vespeira. Between 1945 and 1949, Lopes attended many courses in Lisbon that helped her meet other famous painters like, Carlo Botelho, Albertina Mantua, Costa Pinheiro, Júlio Pomar and Nuno Sampayo [1]


Portuguese modernism highly inspired Bertina's art work. During the time period of (1946-1956), Bertina reflected off the art of Western painters and South American graffiti artist that influences young artist like herself, which was considered "arte negra" (black art)[1]. Eventually, Lopes joined antifascist circles which expressed liberal ideas. Within these circles she met with leaders who opposed the idea of black art. This drove Bertina to openly express her feeling of freedom and democracy. In 1956, Bertina painted a mural called "Pavilhão da Evocação Històrica" which opened in a conjunction where the president of Portugal observed her work. Three years later, she nominated president of the “Nùcleo de Arte” of Maputo and one year after nominated Vice President of “Direccao” of “Nùcleo de Arte”[1].     


Bertina returns back to Mozambique in 1953-1959 where she taught for nine years teaching Artistic Drawing at General Machado Girls’ Technical School [1]. Although Lopes was well favored for her innovative teaching skill, this conflicted with the school rules behind art.


1950 – Painting Prize, Lourenço Marques (Mozambique)[1]

1953 – Medalha de Prata, Lourenço Marques (Mozambique)

1953 – Prémio Empresa Moderna, Lda., Lourenço Marques (Mozambique)

1958 – First Classified (Maior Mérito Artistico), Beira (Mozambique)

1974 – “Trullo D’Oro”, Fasano di Puglia (Brindisi)

1974 – “La Mamma nell’arte. Comunità di Sant’Egidio”, Rome

1975 – International Painting Prize “International Center of Mediterranean Art and Culture”, Corfu (Greece)

1978 – “Leader d’arte. Campidoglio”, Rome

1986 – Venere d’Argento, Erice, (Trapani)

1988 – “Grand Prix d’Honnoeur”, European Union of Art Critics, Rome

1991 – “Rachel Carson Memorial Foundation” World Prize, Rome

1992 – “La Plejade per l’Arte”, Rome

1993 – “Commander for Merits”, appointed by Mario Soares, President of the Republic of Portugal, Lisbon (Portugal)

1994 – “Centro Francescano Internazionale di Studi per il dialogo fra i popoli” (Franciscan International Study Center to promote dialogue among people), Assisi (Perugia)

1995 – “Gabriele D’Annunzio Prize”, Pescara

1996 – “Messaggero della Pace UNIPAX” Prize, Rome

1998 – “Premio Internazionale Arte e Solidarietà nell’Arca”, Florence

1998 – “Frà Angelico”, International Prize, Rome

2002 – Silver Plaque by the President of the Republic of Italy                                                               


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h ":: Archivio Bertina Lopes ::". Retrieved 22 September 2017.
  2. ^ Stanley, Janet L. "Monographs on African Artists". Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  3. ^ a b "MHN: Bertina Lopes". Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  4. ^ a b c ":: Archivio Bertina Lopes ::". Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  5. ^ a b "Sotheby's".