Artist Mamani Mamani paints Bolivia with color and symbols
“Jallalla” is a word that artist Mamani Mamani repeats frequently. It’s a Quechua and Aymara expression that’s used to evoke optimism and enthusiasm.
Considering his work, it’s the right choice. Known in Bolivia as Mamani Mamani, he uses indigenous symbols in textile, sculptures, and photography, representing lightning bolts, animals, and entities. His work stands out because of its lively colors, the kind that shine even brighter in La Paz thanks to the city’s intense luminosity.
For 30 years, this self-taught artist who was inspired by his grandmother has been living off his talent. He knows his country very well because, as a little boy, he used to travel with his father to sell corn. Nowadays, his workshop has become a tourist attraction, very close to the historic Calle Jaén.
After becoming famous thanks to his work, he was invited to paint the murals in the hall of Casa Grande del Pueblo, the new presidential house. The biggest mural features a reference to the Wiphala, the flag that represents the indigenous nations of Bolivia, surrounded by elements of the national flora and fauna.
“My art is a contribution to value our identity,” he says. “We are a plural people and we have much to say.” In that very instant, like it was planned, a person passes by his workshop, sees him, and cuts him off by emotionally yelling: “Mamani Mamani, the pride of Bolivia!”