By Andrew Mulenga
2014 turned out to be one of the most eventful years on the Zambian art scene particularly because it was plagued by the deaths of artists young and old.
|Baba Jakeh Chande died aged 42 in Helsinki, Finland|
It saw the passing of Finland-based conceptual artist and sculptor Baba Jakeh Chande who died in March aged 42 after being diagnosed with a cancerous growth on the liver in a Helsinki hospital, this was followed by the death of one of his mentors and founder of Rockston Studio Lutanda Mwamba who succumbed to meningitis and Malaria at the age of 48 in Lusaka barely two months later.
Death struck again just about two months later, claiming the sculptor Nobbie Tsokalida of Desai compound in Lusaka at the age of 70. Tsokalida is remembered for his sculptures in the lands highest courts.
October however would be perhaps the hardest hitting with the deaths of Ignatius Sampa, one of the country’s most promising young painters was killed by a hit and run vehicle in Lusaka in the early hours of Saturday 1 November, he was 23 years old and in an unrelated incidence, Canadian artist Wendy Dobereiner was found dead in an apparent suicide at her Lusaka residence on Sunday, she was 62.
Lutanda Mwamba died aged 48 after
succumbing to malaria and meningitis
The two disturbing deaths evoked deep reflection on the sheer futility of life. The first of a young man with incredible promise the second of an extrovert, jovial and full of life, the last person one could expect would be responsible for taking their own life.
All these artists made significant contributions to the Zambian art scene which will remember for posterity.
Nevertheless, 2014 was not all gloom and doom, it did not pass without encouraging high points such as a few artists gaining global mileage particularly Lawrence Chikwa and Stary Mwaba showing in a prestigious exhibition and attending a residency in Germany respectfully.
On the local front young artists like Ngandu Mwaba and Caleb Chisha were brave enough to test choppy waters and hold their first solo exhibitions in Lusaka.
September brought the graduation of the first BA Fine arts students on Zambian soil by the Zambia Open University, a month later the year saw the opening of the Livingstone Art Gallery as part of the country’s Independence Day jubilee.
Generally, 2014 was vibrant with consistent shows at Alliance Francaise, 37d Gallery, Zebra Crossing Cafe, the Lusaka National Museum, the Livingston Art Gallery and the Henry Tayali Gallery in Lusaka.
|Nobbie Tsokalida passed away at 70 in Lusaka|