Telling the African story one painting at a time

09 Jun, 2019 - 00:06 0 Views
Telling the African story one painting at a time

The Sunday Mail

Andrew Moyo

THERE was a hive of activity at Wild Geese Lodge last Sunday when 150 visual artists converged for the annual Art Fes­tival.

The venue was full of life, with the magnificent artworks on display adding colour to an already mesmeric atmos­phere. Among the artists showcasing their work at the fete was Lawrence Nyemba, whose captivating paintings had collectors drooling.

The Victoria Falls-based fine artist does wonders with the paint brush. He creates pieces that are not only easy on the eye, but also raises the audience’s curiosity.

His work is laden with rich African stories. Subjects range from traditional inspired human portraits to wild fauna. Women and children’s faces are also among his favourite subjects.

His attention to detail cannot escape any serious art lover. He makes use of his creativity to bring out a lot of emotion and give life to the paintings.

Born in 1991 in Marondera, Nyemba fell in love with art at an early age having discovered that he could create better drawings that most of his peers.

“As a kid, I would compete with my friends to see who could produce better drawings and I always came out on top,” he said, adding, “Drawing has always been a significant part of my life to the extent that when we were given diagrams to draw during tests at school, I would feel liberated because that is where my strength was.”

With his family unsupportive of his art pursuit, he took a different path after finishing high school, heading to Kenya where he trained to be a fitness coach, an adventure that he abandoned midway.

From Kenya, his next destination was South Africa where he got a job clean­ing cars at a Toyota dealership, a place where his artistic calling was accidentally reignited.

“While I was cleaning cars, one customer ordered me to throw out everything that was in her car and there was a plastic bag containing oil paints and a few brushes. I asked her if I could dump them as well and she said yes, pointing out that she was fed up with art.

“Instead of throwing away these mate­rials, I kept them and started teaching myself how to paint. After some time, I started getting a grip on the craft.”

Besides cleaning cars, the young man was also learning a few tricks about mechanics and would soon lend another job at a car-tuning company. However, he was not being paid much as he lacked proper qualifications.

“One day I decided to paint the posh cars that customers were bringing to the garage and after realising that they appreciated my art and that I was being paid more for the paintings than I was getting as a mechanic, I quit and decided to venture into art full time.

“Things became a bit tough as my art venture did not take off as I had antic­ipated, which forced me to come back home in 2014.”

His mother was still not supportive of a career in art. She advised him to take French lessons at Alliance Francaise, with the hope that he would venture into tourism as a French guide. After finishing his French course, he moved to the hub of tourism, Victoria Falls, hoping to lend a job. However, that was not an easy task.

“My French wasn’t good enough to be a guide but then I realised a lot people were surviving on art. I told myself that this was my world and that I was not going anywhere no matter what my family said.

“The first few months were very diffi­cult because I did not have anyone show­ing me the ropes but then as time went on, things started getting better as I grew more knowledgeable about the industry. While my family were not supportive at first, they have now come around and are actually proud of my work.”

Some of his paintings cost as much as US$1 500, with his major markets being Victoria Falls and numerous art galleries in other parts of the country.

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