Ricardo Rangel was born on 15 February 1924 in Lourenço Marques, now Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. His mother was a black Mozambiquan and his father was a Greek businessman from a multifaceted background, with African, European and Chinese heritage.
Rangel began his photographic career in the 1940s. Starting at age 17 he worked as a darkroom assistant in his home city for several years. In 1952 he began taking photos for the local newspaper NotÁcias da Tarde, becoming the first multi-racial photojournalist at the company. He joined the progressive newspaper La Tribune in 1961.
Rangel’s photographs largely focus on urban life in Mozambique, depicting the abused children of the street, the overpopulated township areas and other harsh realities of poverty and racism. The political challenges his work posed resulted in censorship by the Portuguese authorities and harassment from police.
In 1970, Rangel worked with four other journalists to found a weekly illustrated publication they called Tempo. The magazine was Mozambique’s first to appear in full colour. Its issues included photographs, comic strips, editorials and articles on current events, sports and culture. Severe censorship by the Portuguese colonial regime restricted Tempo’s content in its first four years, but after the April 1974 coup the magazine took a leading role in documenting the nation’s political events until the publication folded in 1980.
After Mozambique gained independence, Rangel worked to train photographers for the media outlets Agencia de Informacao de Mozambique and Noticias. He worked as director of the Sunday newspaper Domingo from 1981 to 1984. In 1984 Mozambique’s minister of education asked Rangel to start a school of photography, the Centro de Formacao Fotograficia. In 1994 the French Cultural Centre published a book compiling his work.
Rangel published a book in 2002 titled Foto-jornalismo ou foto-confusionismo, in which he critiqued the carelessness of some photojournalism. The 2004 publication Our Nightly Bread included his photographic series on sex workers in 1960s and ’70s Lourenço Marques, part of which was exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1996. A documentary profiling the photographer, ‘Ricardo Rangel: Ferro Em Brasa’, was released in 2006.
Rangel exhibited his work internationally, with solo exhibitions in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Mali, South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as Mozambique. At age 85, Rangel died in his sleep at his home in Maputo.
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Â· Galiza Matos, E. (2009) ‘Morreu Ricardo Rangel, decano do foto-jornalismo moçambicano’, JazzMan Brasil 12 June. Available on www.jazzmanbrasil.com. [Accessed 18 May 2015]|Tadeu, M. and Lima, T. (2009) ‘Os olhos abertos de Ricardo Rangel’ BBC para Ãfrica 18 June. Available on www.bbc.co.uk. [Accessed 18 May 2015]
Â· Afronova (n.d.) ‘Ricardo Rangel, 1924-2009’ Afronova. Available on www.afronova.com. [Accessed 18 May 2015]|Mozambique History Net (n.d.) ‘Mozambican Photography and Photographers, 1960s to 1990s’. Available on www.mozambiquehistory.net. [Accessed 18 May 2015]