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Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Five young Zambian artists to watch in 2014

By Andrew Mulenga

We are already a month into 2014 but it is not too late to list a handful of promising rising stars that are bound to make an impact on the Zambian art scene this year. 

Giga Psych (pen on paper) by Emmanuel Chibaye
In the author’s humble opinion there are five, imminent stars who stand out from the rest of the pack, of course they vary in terms of experience and this draft class is not deep but there is still plenty of potential and promise in the bunch. One could make an all-inclusive list with every rookie on the scene, but that would be long, boring and uncompetitive. 

So unfortunately, some very worthy candidates did not make the cut. You have the hard-working Mapopa Manda, Rabson Phiri, David Makala, Owen Shikabeta, Chifuchi Kandala and Montfort Chinunda who will eventually have their own features in this space but there was no room on this list.  Nukwase Tembo, Othiniel Lingwabo, Ngandu Mwaba, Suse Kasokota and Alumedi Maonde are other solid candidates who will have to shine here another day.  Caleb Chisha already got a Hole In The Wall spotlight and his epic contributions to almost every major exhibition last year has him poised for celebrity, yet even he is not on this list.

Nevertheless, here we present a quintet of talented young artists who have all the tools to be dominant forces, and one exciting thing considering last week’s edition of this column which was entitled “Where are all the female artists?”, three out of the five are female.

First up is 25-year-old Emmanuel Chibaye of Ndola. He completed a Diploma in Art and Commerce at the Evelyn Hone College last year but really caught the art-loving public’s attention when he featured in a Start Foundation exhibition for emerging artists -- a good measuring stick for talent -- at the 37d Gallery in Lusaka. Working mostly in pen and ink, the abstract, mask-like portraits he presented during this show won the hearts of many probably owing to their surreal quality, borrowing heavily from either the Spanish painters Salvador Dali or the Congolese maestro Cheri Samba. We did not see much of Chibaye after the 37d show, but if he could just get his act together this year with regards exposure, he could be showered with accolades in 2014.

Mask Me Not (Julia Chikamoneka)
by Gladys Kalichini
Next on the list is Gladys Kalichini, a 25 year old painter who interestingly holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics with a minor in Demography (Population Studies) from the University of Zambia, something totally unrelated to her creative practice. Upon returning from Botswana where she lived with her parents, she explored and acquired an introduction to art as a profession through apprenticeship at the Arts Academy Without Walls in 2008. Hard work and determination coupled with exceptional talent earned her two Ngoma Awards, her first being in 2010 when she was just 20-years-old and her second in 2012. Although she was not that active last year, owing to the demands of her final year ay UNZA, we should expect her to be on point this year.

Fascinated by the social and cultural dynamics which she subtly incorporates in her works, she uses art to bring attention to many social inadequacies especially the minimum female participation in the Zambian contemporary art scene. She is also a member of art4art which is a non-governmental organization which uses art to bring about social change in various communities.

Mulenga Mulenga is next on our list, arguably the hardest working female artist in the country, this multi-talented 26-year-old is a painter as well as a sculptor. When working with paint, she blends raw acrylic colours with charcoal using her palette knife for effect.

Most of her themes as an artist centre on celebrating children or early childhood, she expands on a formula she calls Kutangila, inspired by her farther a part-time artist. The concept is centred on an old Bemba saying Ukutangila tekufika (loosely translated it means the first to start off is not the first to reach). She relates this to the fact that her father supported her art career with this in mind, looking at Mulenga to finish off a journey which he started but has not arrived with regards art.

Expression of dance
by Ignitius Sampa
She holds an Art & Design Diploma from Evelyn Hone College of Commerce and Applied Arts and has been quite instrumental in running affairs within the Insaka International artists Trust where she has been mentored for leadership under the apprenticeship of Visual Arts Council Vice-chairman Zenzele Chulu.

Ignatius Sampa is another young artist that deserves mention on the list although he disappeared off the radar in 2011 after surprising us with a painting entitled Makishi Last Supper which was subsequently purchased by the Lechwe Art Trust making him one of the youngest in the prestigious Zambian collection as he was only 20-years-old at the time.

Anyway, Sampa returns full of energy and he gave us a glimpse of his recent work during the Artmas exhibition at the Henry Tayali Gallery. He still works with the Makishi masquerades as a concept but there is no telling what he will do with them next.

Father Who ii (acrylic on canvas)
by Mulenga Mulenga
He has had no formal art training; however, he took up art seriously in 2005 when he was only 14 years old after being advised to join VAC by Dominic Yombwe. He has also received mentorship from Caleb Chisha – just five years his senior -- although he draws inspiration from Livingstone based artist Lawrence Yombwe when it comes to his colour palette and technique.
Last but not least is Alina Mateke of Livingston. When this 17-year-old bravely tested the not-too-friendly waters of the art scene by featuring work in Kamulanga, the high-ranking 20th UNWTO general assembly main art exhibition at the Livingston Museum last year, she was not afraid of the outcome. Fortunately the courage paid off, because not only was her work well received she ended up being one of the darlings of the exhibition and this would later encourage her to visit the capital and feature in the Independence Art Exhibition. Of course she still has a long way to go and remains slightly undecided in terms of a career path, but her unbridled enthusiasm and immense talent put her in good stand to become one of the most popular artists on  the scene if she keeps her foot on the peddle, or rather brush on the canvas.
In The Comfort of Young Love by Alina Mateke

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