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| | |-+  40 Years of Visual Expression: Art from Zambia
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Author Topic: 40 Years of Visual Expression: Art from Zambia  (Read 11688 times)
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« on: December 08, 2004, 03:14:59 PM »

"A Bucket to Share"
-- Thompson Namukuba (oil on canvas)


By Andrew Mulenga:

The art exhibition entitled "40 years of Visual Expression" held at the State House last Saturday brought together the work of four decades and, figuratively, four generations of Zambian artists.

David Shepherd, Akwila Simpasa, William Miko and young Charles Chambata, among others, provided the State House backyard with some of the well-crafted pieces that were on display at the exhibition.

The show presented about 100 sculptures, paintings, drawings, and watercolours. It was an expansive project involving the cooperation of the First Lady Maureen Mwanawasa, the French and US embassies, the National Arts Council, the Visual Arts council and several artists and collectors from across Zambia.

Apart from the considerable artistic merit of the works on display, the show was exceptional because the organizers had assembled representative work that provided a new explanation of our country's visual arts.

The case could be made that these works collectively evidence the very seeds and fruit of Zambian art; where it has come from, where it currently is and where it is headed.

The earliest and arguably the most significant of the artists in this exhibit was David Shepard. Shepherd was commissioned to do two official paintings of the Independence Celebration in 1964 and these two graced the entrance of the exibition. It's hard to believe that a human hand can work a brush to almost photographic precision.

It is easy to describe the late Akwila Simpasa's "Freedom Statue" but it is not so easy to decipher his painting "Birth of Independence". The imagery seems to just explode in your face. It has what appears to be an infant in a foetal position, a crying woman, a raised hand and a blazing sun popping out of the horizon with rays spanning the entire surface area of the canvas. One cannot tell what was on the artist’s mind but the dark murky colours seem to convey his emotions and spirituality.

William Miko's presence here shows you just how successful a Zambian artist can become. Who could be more fitting to run a private art gallery at the high profile Intercontinental Hotel in Lusaka. Miko has a Masters Degree in fine arts; he is definitely a role model for the younger generation of artists.

It was hard to miss Charles Chambata, an upcoming sculptor who had two pieces on display. Charles works in Jacaranda wood and he seems to have mastered the human form. He depicts the female body in peculiars poses that seem to defy the laws of physics. In Charles, Zambia's talent reserves are well stocked.

The greater significance of the exhibition was the insight it afforded into the virtual birth of Zambia as reflected in art. It was literally a creative expedition from the early 70s to 2004.

In President Levy Mwanawasa’s words, it was “a splendid display of good Zambian art.


The First Lady mingled freely with the artists


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