What is colour? Is there such a thing as a person of colour, as a Black or White person? Or don’t we all have different skin colours?
Who is that “Black” person sitting next to me, walking by the my-your-our side of the street? What do I really know about him/her/them?


September 13, 2020, 12:00 CET| Updated on October 12, 2020, 15:59 CET

Photo Credits: Franca Franchi

This story started a few years ago in Lisbon, Portugal when a Black man was happily dancing in the metro and got stopped by the police and asked, “Why the dance?” “Are you on drugs?” “Where are your papers?” Despite all the proper explanations he gave, the man was taken to the police station and released only after proving his “worth.”

His crime? Dancing! The triggers? Racism and prejudice by members of Lisbon’s law enforcement.

That Black man was Cristiano Mangovo, a recognised painter born in Cabinda, Angola, in 1982 with an extraordinary talent and a very genuine, loving, and humanistic approach to life, depicted in his artworks where colour meets light without barriers, infusing a sense of hope and life, just as a world without racism would be.

Mangovo (as he signs his paintings) was dancing in the metro that day after receiving a call to inform him he had sold four of his paintings to a collector. What a joy! Unfortunately, the joy only lasted a few minutes until he got stopped.

This makes us ask the uncomfortable question: Would a white man dancing in the metro have been stopped by the police and questioned about his reasons to dance? Would he have been taken to the police station even after explaining his reason for such joy?

The Mangovo’s Colours photo series is an open invitation to take a contemplative walk with Mangovo in the streets of central Lisbon, where he anonymously blends in among the vast immigrant population and no one knows who he really is and what he does. We don’t know who the others are, so it is an opportunity to visit and witness from a very intimate point of view his universe as an artist. A metamorphosis from the anonymous Black man who walks by our side in the streets into a human being with a deep and touching inner world (just like you, or me, or anyone else) that gets represented in his artwork.


This photo series is supported by the Stars4Media pilot project.