Photo: Marke Meyer

MPENJA – an intriguing double act

Untamed spaces, legend, romance, nostalgia, people in the raw, heat, drought, fragrance, strange coincidences and a wildly successful game of love are some of the things that flood my mind when looking at an Mpenja painting. These paintings seem to have all the ingredients of a riveting African tale.

The titles of the pieces give added insight as to what the artists themselves see into their works. ‘Silent passing’ depicts a magnificent African elephant treading heavily and purposefully through a background of layered brushstrokes and big African cats - all softly serene and filled with dignity.  Ancestral Land’ gives one the eerie feeling of longing for a land that is almost forgotten in our hearts – this is Africa as it should be.

Everett and Frances Duarte are indeed an intriguing double act.

Mpenja is a coming together of two minds and two continents. Everett, a self confessed African rock lizard (he turns peculiar without the sun) meets in an almost sacred artistic space with Frances – a cooler blooded European - born and bred in Mittweida, Germany.

Fascinatingly, they work together to create a kind of visual dialogue in every piece. Both mix colours, both paint layer upon layer, both wrestle and grapple until both finally agree that the piece is finished. Frances tells me that the work is often done in silence – it’s both heart felt and cerebral.

Beguilingly, they are able to marry two vastly different loves of Africa. Everett, who hails, breathes and is from Africa stretches out and touches Frances’ love of the same land. Frances has the edge of one who actually chooses Africa as her love. There is a saying about “one who is converted has more of a knowing’. Meeting Frances, one soon realises that she has a deep down longing and knowing for this ancient land – it comes naturally to her. Frances celebrates Africa, Everett longs for it every minute he is away from it. This is almost tangible in the tapestry of these layered works.

The couple spends a portion of the year in South Africa and the rest in Europe. Mpenja is only created in Africa. “It has to be this way”, Frances patiently explains to me, “to be truly authentic and to be able to create the real stuff of this land – it has to be done here in the warmth and beauty of itself.”  One senses their integrity as they get ready for their return stay in Germany. They take back with them a bundle of freshly rolled and completed canvases. These Mpenja pieces are ready for a host of upcoming European exhibitions. It is in Germany, between exhibitions, that Everett and Frances will temporarily separate in their work and create pieces in their own capacity as fine artists. She in shades of whites using a snowy pallet and he in wild and bold stokes of African dreams.  But then that’s another story for another day…


Barbie Meyer (South African actress - May 2012)

Acadamic Backrounds

Frances Schandera (born in Mittweida, Germany in 1975).

1993-1997         Degree in Fashion Design at the University of Applied Arts in Schneeberg/ Germany.

1998-2001         Co-founder of award winning fashion label Mutare established in Chemnitz/ Germany.    

2002 - 2004       Lecturer at the Jassawi University (Shymkent / Kazakhstan)               

2005-2007         Master Degree in Art Therapy at the University of Fine Art (HfBK) in Dresden/ Germany.


Everett Duarte (born in Tzaneen,South Africa in 1980).

1998                 Matriculated at Pietermaritzburg College / ZA.

1999-2001         National Diploma Graphic Art at Technikon Natal in Durban / ZA.

2006-2007         University of Fine Art (HfBK) in Dresden / Germany with Prof. Ralf Kerbach.

2007                 Selected as a Young International Artist of our generation in the Kunst Ausstellung

                        in the Haus Der Kunst In München Germany.


shortened version 2000 - present

HanseArt Art Fair in Bremen - Germany.                                                                           

Solo -Forgotten Africa“ Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit in Potsdam - Germany.                           

Arte Binningen - International Art Fair in Binningen - Switzerland.

"DREI"  Petrikirche in Freiberg - Germany.                                                                                     

Gallery Ann in Gaborone - Botswana.

Solo at KZNSA Gallery in Durban - South Africa.

Solo at Gallery Papillion in Bern - Switzerland.

Solo at Münsingen Castle - Switzerland.

Solo at IMA design village in Berlin - Germany.

„Red Eye“ at Durban Art Gallery - South Africa.

Wine Estate Stallmann Hiestand in Frankfurt - Germany.

Decorex Cape Town ICC - South Africa.


German Trendsetter award Düsseldorf - Germany.

Marianne Brandt Award - Germany.

Young International Artist of our generation at
„Haus der Kunst“ in München - Germany.

Audi TT Art Car Dresden - Germany.  
Wildlands ICC Durban - South Africa.