Art Yak with CHANDA MWENYA
IT APPEARS “time flies” is not just another cliché, Time is indeed really flying.
It is that time we take a recap of what transpired in the year. They year had a fair share of interesting as well as sad developments on its calendar.
We recorded a number of art exhibitions, mainly in Lusaka with the Henry Tayali gallery in the Lusaka Showgrounds hosting the most shows. It hosted the Dwain Whitaker show, the Caleb Chisha “Amalegeni” show and the Chilyapa Lwando “My Ganozo” show.
Other exhibitions at Henry Tayali, which was also visited by the King of Morocco, His Majesty Mohammed VI, were the “Monty and Friends” show, the “Rivers of the Worlds” show by the British Council, the “Konsekonse” European Union (EU), sponsored exhibition, the Independence show and the Angela Mulenga and Phiri exhibition.
The Evelyn Hone College of Applied Arts and Commerce held its first ever public graduation art exhibition at the Lusaka National Museum where the institution unleashed some new talents.
The Zambia Open University was out-classed as it held its own fifth art graduation at the same venue.
The Small Works Art gallery at The Deli on Luanza Road in Rhodespark also hosted a number of group shows that featured notable artists.
The year has also seen the revival of one the country’s most celebrated exhibitions, the “African Inspiration” exhibition after a 16-year absence. The return of this show highlighted the resilience of some of the country’s veteran artists such as Poto Kabwe, Eddie Mumba, Style Kunda, Victor Makashi, Adam Mwansa, Vincentio Phiri and Agness Yombwe who were part of the initial editions of the exhibition.
Modzi Arts, located at the Swedish School in Lusaka’s Longacres, was also another important platform for artists in this calendar year.
The venue hosted exhibitions and some interesting art talks.
The interacting façade to Modzi Arts is its potential to embrace new creative ideas outside the confines of conventional art. At Modzi Arts, conceptual and performance art was quite regular.
One of the noticeable discussions held at Modzi Art was in October. It was dubbed “Conceptualise, Contextualise and Decolonising Art in the African Context”. The artists discussed at length and questioned the relevance of art in contemporary society.
And across the border, artist Gladys Kalichini graduated with Master’s degree in Fine Art at Rhodes University in South Africa. She concluded her studies this December with a show dubbed “Chamoneka”. (A comprehensive article on the artist and the show will be coming soon).
There was one feature in 2017 that did not require someone to visit the gallery or an art centre to view it; the body art of socialite Iris Kaingu.
The artwork was all over the internet and somewhat caused a social media frenzy. Iris stepped into artist Caleb Chisha’s studio completely nude to do a “Painted Princess”, a body paint artwork, in a project in which she said she was exploring the historical beauty of cultural body paint.
On a sad note, the year registered the passing on of multi- skilled artist Gabriel Ellison, perhaps best remembered for designing Zambia’s coat of arms and flag. The year also witnessed the passing of sculptor Flinto Chandia, who has left a “Tantalising” art legacy which he concluded with a grand “Departure” solo exhibition.
Although, Flinto died last August, “He” only left the “Zambian Contemporary Art” WhatsApp group early this week.
And no sooner had he left the group than Caleb Chisha posted to ask who was using his phone. “Try calling and ask who did it,’’ responded Chewe Chisha. “If it’s MTN, remember it’s everywhere you go. He might be busy on WhatsApp where he is,” posted Sydney.
The posts that followerd somewhat raised some “Tantalising” nostalgia and an affirmation that artists never die.