MOSES WALUBITA, Lusaka
“TO THOSE coming through our doors for the first time, you are indeed most welcome and we hope to see you more often as we present for your pleasure and appreciation authentic and indigenous Zambian visual arts throughout the year. Apart from these exhibitions, the Council/Gallery and sometimes some of our affiliate bodies hold workshops, talks, educational tours and other art-related activities,” states the Zambia National Visual Arts Council (VAC) in a message.
During the Our Identity Exhibition of paintings by the Copperbelt Province artists, the Zambia National Visual Arts Council lined up a series of exhibitions, one of them being the Copperbelt exhibition at the Henry Tayali Art Gallery, dubbed ‘The home of Authentic Zambian Art’, located in the Lusaka Showgrounds, Lion’s Lane.
The Henry Tayali Art Gallery was established 29 years ago alongside the formation of the Zambia National Visual Arts Council. The gallery is named in memory of Henry Tayali, Zambia’s prolific torch bearer of his time.
The Our Identity Art Exhibition by Copperbelt visual artists showcases artworks by prominent painters Danny Chiyesu, Davies Sichinsambwe, Mathew Mudenda, Adam Mwansa, Sakanya Banda, Christopher Kasongo and the only female Amanda Chabeba.
The Copperbelt exhibition was a surprise evidence to people who do not know and those who know what the Copperbelt means, apart from copper.
Most of the Copperbelt artists chose to depict nature in their works as opposed to stories Zambians and foreigners might associate with the mining and culture of the Copperbelt Province. The artists have gone into wildlife depictions.
This might be strange since there is no game park on the Copperbelt. Artists have chosen a theme that is not a provincial characteristic. However, artists are free to express themselves in the best way they find to show their skills.
In this case, working on wildlife themes has opened a discussion that artists usually do not normally depict what is common in their day to day settings. It shows the longing that artists have towards wildlife.
There are exceptions in the Henry Tayali Art Gallery of the works by Danny Chiyesu and Davies Sichinsambwe, who have chosen to show everyday life that you can see either in Ndola, Kitwe, Mufulira, Luanshya, Chingola, Kalulushi, Chililabombwe or Chambeshi.
Chiyesu and Sichinsambwe have decided to focus on people’s habits such as firewood collections and beer drinking. Notably, there is also one work that Chiyesu has done on the music repertoire.
Chiyesu’s painting about music brings out the memories of the Kalindula and Zamrock genres. On one side of the painting is listed some of Zambia’s legendary outfits, names of bands and individual foreign and local artists. It is a fitting tribute to past and present in the music industry.
In the middle of this painting, he has infused in a guitar object and has written names of famous Zambian musicians who include Nashil Pichen Kazembe, Rikki Ililonga, Keith Mlevu, Paul Ngozi, Mike Nyoni, Laban Kalunga, Benson Simbeye, Smokey Haangala, Ackim Simukonda, Alfred Kalusha Chisala and Charles Shawa .
The rest are Andy Chola, Pontiano Kaiche, Isaac Mapiki, Alick Nkhata, Emmanuel Mulemena, Charles Muyamwa, Lazarus Tembo and PK Chishala.
Bands listed are Shalawambe, Amayenge, Oliya, Green Labels, Air Power, Masasu, Black Foot, Fire Family, 5 Revolutions, Ngozi Family, Kalambo Hit Parade, Glorious Band, Distro Kuomboka, Julizya, Serenje Kalindula Band and the WITCH.
On the left, Chiyesu has infused in names of foreign artists, Franco (Democratic Republic of the Congo); Oliver Mtukudzi (Zimbabwe), Bob Marley (Jamaica), BB King, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix (United States of America) and The Beatles (United Kingdom), to mention a few.
Franco Luambo Makiadi was a dynamic and gifted guitarist whose music career spanned 40 years. Chiyesu has also depicted Jazz, Blues, Reggae, Rock n Roll, R n B, Hip Hop, Pop, Disco and Country music.
Shalawambe is preparing for the Central Province Expo. In its line-up, there are Dolenzy Kabwe on guitar and vocals, Cletus Chisha on bass and male dancer Bowas Mutafela Kunda. The band, which plans to recruit dancers, has brought in two young boys Saviour Chisha and Joseph Mwaba on rhythm and drums, respectively. On keyboards, there is Washington Sibanda.
Meanwhile, Adam Mwansa on his painting has depicted dancing as well as worship and prayer. Mathew Mudenda is so much into depiction of water -related paintings including one that celebrates the Kuomboka Ceremony of the Lozi people of Western Province (Barotseland). There is a big Baobab tree, a painting by Christopher Katongo, while Adam Mwansa has also drawn the ghetto.
Sakanya Banda and Mwansa have concentrated on wildlife. Sichinsambwe has done day to day life. For example, people playing nsolo (draughts) and people normally arguing.
The only female artist, Amanda Chabeba, has concentrated on portraits. She is trying to promote hairstyles like the traditional vikuti, popular among women and girls.
One painting that also catches visitors’ eyes and potential buyers is Danny Chiyesu’s Tyre Speed, common in most compounds.
Zenzele Chulu of the Zambia National Visual Arts Council’s Exhibition Committee said the Copperbelt Our Identity Art Exhibition is a good way of sharing the artists’ insights, feelings, thoughts, ideas and directions they are trying to champion.
“What has stood out is wildlife and yet there are no game parks on the Copperbelt,” he said.
On September 6, 2018, the Henry Tayali Art Gallery invited art lovers to a private preview of the Copperbelt Our Identity Arts Exhibition.
MOSES WALUBITA, Lusaka