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Sunday, 17 February 2013

Hidden talents revealed…

By Andrew Mulenga

The variety of subject matter in the on-going exhibition at Ababa House along Addis Ababa Road in Lusaka provides for some entertaining viewing.

The eponymously titled Hidden Talents Revealed features various oil, water colours and drawings from about nine little known artists as well as a few works by the more experienced Lombe Nsama and long-time friend and collaborating partner Paul Banda.

Oolala (oil on canvas) by Candice Rogoff
Nsama touches different subjects but one of his paintings Clad In National Colours stands out, if not only because of its large size. The painting is obviously one of many recent works by various artists that was inspired by Zambia’s short lived stint as the African soccer champions. It is done in the Matero Girls’ school teacher’s typical semi-abstract style but like most of his recent works, it leaves his keen followers almost hungry to see him push himself a notch further in terms a visual evolution, but this does not seem to be happening. Without doubt, he is one of the most promising Zambian painters of his generation, but there is always a feeling in his work that he is going to surprise you and do something new next time you see it but then nothing really happens apart from the occasional shift in subject matter.

On a similar note, Banda too does not really seem to bring in anything new with his marketplace series. He does however reemphasise his strength as a mixed media illustrator. The Lake Road school teacher’s work Market Day is literally begging to be thrown into an illustrated school book. Banda also brings a loose end from a previous exhibition entitled Namwali, a portrait of a nubile female bearing eye-gouging breasts, it is an intense illustration which also appears to have science fiction comic book overtones.

Monty, a 22-year-old upcoming artist and protégé of the celebrated young painter Stary Mwaba has a number of abstract works in the exhibition too. But some of the determined young artists work such as Tell Me More which features two figures with mask-like faces draws too many visual parallels to his mentor’s work, which of course is not such a bad thing as he will obviously find his feet and own style with continued practice. These are still early days in his career.

Clad In National Colours by Lombe Nsama
There is no mistaking the European heritage of the rest of the artists in the exhibition with works such as A Gaze Through A French Tunnel by Sheila Kellerman that transports the viewer to an enchanting, narrow, cobblestone street somewhere in Paris.

And Stella Dubler brings a very captivating painting entitled Space Cat to the show. It depicts an alien cat with pod-like feet, sharp teeth and huge, hypnotic yellow eyes in an eerie twilight landscape heading towards the viewer; this painting was in fact sold before the exhibition opening about a week ago.

Oolala a cheeky nude lower torso of a woman by Candice Rogoff bring a naughty twist to the space, but without doubt an entertaining aspect to the exhibition.

Space Cat (acrylic on canvas)
by Stella Dubler
The other featured artists are Shane Edwards, Margo Dekker, Cheryl Burgess, Charmaine Bowker and Francis. Hidden Talents Revealed will run at Ababa House for a month and make way for Electric Africa, a solo exhibition by UK-based painter Emily Kirby that is set to open on the April 18 and run until May 1.
Meanwhile, Dr Wendy Dobereiner from Vancouver University in Canada who is currently a visiting professor at the Zambia Open University Fine Arts department will be giving a talk and slide presentation at the Henry Tayali Gallery in the Lusaka Show grounds. The interactive talk is open to the public and is expected to commence at 9:30hrs today, entry is free.

1 comment:

  1. The exhibition opened on the day of the fatal Post bus accident. I was travelling from Ndola but could not arrive in good time for the opening due to the traffic congestion on Great North Road caused by the turn of events. I however was the first Patron on Friday morning. Mr Mulenga I can't agree with you more on your sentiments on Lombe Nsama. His style is unique but looking at his work at Ababa House Mr Nsama had a good number of pieces on display but its like you are looking at one and the same piece or some piece you have seen before. Mr Nsama has a thing with 'kasukulu' subjects but I think its time he moved a step further from his comfort zone.
    Paul Banda is a natural at figures I think, but that three piece painting at the corner was too experimental.
    Margo's watercolours reflect her years of experience with this usually delicate medium. A chat with an eloquent Margo revealed that she has been doing watercolours since 2001.It is not any wonder that Margos body of work had two or three sold red stickers on it.
    And then Looking at Monty's work in the Corner, one sees that rare use of the brush and colour wheel but the 'Stary Mwaba heads' sell her out really she has to constantly deal with 'copying'from this Zambian master.
    On the whole, that was not bad for the years first show.