Art as a medium of expression comes in various models, which includes poetry, music – regardless of the genre -, dressing, drawing, painting, to mention a few. Afroway had a marvelous opportunity to engage one of the most celebrated artists, Mr. Dumisani Ndlovu, who not only has a presence in is home country, Zimbabwe, but also in various parts in Europe.
Our very own Mr. Musungu presents Mr. Ndlovu, the Visual Artist, interview on matters about his country and art.
Musungu: How are you today, Mr. Ndlovu?
Mr. Ndlovu: I am fine thanks.
Musungu: How is life like in Post-Mugabe Zimbabwe?
Mr. Ndlovu: Life in Zimbabwe after Robert Mugabe has gone from bad to worse. The economic decline, corruption is the order of the day. There are shortages of every essential such as bread, chicken, cooking oil and shortage of fuel that have worsened as the country runs out of foreign currency to buy imported goods. All the essential goods have become scarcer and are far more expensive.
Musungu: How has the transition in government affected the arts and social life?
Mr. Ndlovu: Artistic freedom of expression, the freedom to imagine, create, distribute diverse cultural expression and the right to speak one’s mind freely on important issues in society are still violated. The government has not yet aligned media laws with the country’s new constitution passed in 2013, and, among other violations, media authorities arbitrarily deny licenses to community radio stations. Journalists and artists face harassment, threats, and arbitrary arrests, and increasingly dire economic conditions continue to cause job losses and financial strain in the media sector.
Musungu: Is there any hope of Zimbabwe getting back on her feet?
Mr. Ndlovu: Yes, there is the hope of Zimbabwe getting back on her feet, I think this will happen after the present Government is gone; the country is rich in minerals such as gold, diamonds, and platinum.
Musungu: As an artist, how are you getting along despite all that is happening?
Art has inspired me throughout my life; it makes me better
and stronger. Passion is also my main driving force and the need to make the
world more interesting.
Musungu: When did you get into the arts? How has it been for you?
Mr. Ndlovu: I started to work as a full-time artist in 1993. Tourists were traditionally the biggest buyers of local art. Back in the days, being a visual artist was enviable, lucrative and gratifying. The tourists really loved paintings and would buy a number of our artworks.
Musungu: Tell us some of the exhibitions and how they have shaped your craft and worldview?
Mr. Ndlovu: My artworks have been included in numerous group exhibitions at home and abroad such as “Zimbabwe Heritage 1993 – 1996”, International Exhibition of Graphics, Portland Art Museum, U.S.A” (1997), “International exhibition” Africa Exhibit” Germany” (2000), “8th International Exhibition of Prints and Drawings – Grafinnova” Finland (2002) and “ Visual Artists Association of Bulawayo” (VAAB) annual exhibitions since 1993. Zimbabwe Denmark Cultural Art Dialogue exhibition National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo (ZIDKCAD) 2015. This has shaped my art to move away from decorative purposes to involve social engagement and political motives.
Musungu: From the choice of colour and titles “That’s Life” “Busy Day” “It’s a Day,” your work exudes optimism and vibrancy. Is it from a point of view or a message to those out there?
Mr. Ndlovu: It is both from point of view and a message to those out there because art is communication, it allows people from different cultures and different times to communicate with each other via images and it is also a vehicle for social change.
Dumisani Ndlovu- Street scene Photo: Kudzai Chikomo
Musungu: In your career, have you done a lot of commissions? What are some of the challenges of doing commissioned work?
Mr. Ndlovu: Commissioned work are personalized pieces I do not do what I want, I will be doing what customer wants.
Musungu: How is it like working at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe?
Mr. Ndlovu: It is a great advantage to work at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo because it is supportive of the artists and market them. It is also stimulating to work around other artists and share ideas and many customers come to the National Gallery.
Musungu: What inspires you to wake up every day?
Mr. Ndlovu: Nature and my surroundings inspire me to wake up every day and work.
Musungu: What to you can be described as a fantastic day in the office?
Mr. Ndlovu: Fantastic day in office/studio is when I have produced a masterpiece.
Musungu: Tell us about the techniques of art you employ in your works.
Mr. Ndlovu: I do printing making and painting on paper or canvas using oil or acrylic paints.
Musungu: Any artists whom you look up to for motivation
Mr. Ndlovu: I look up to Pablo Ruiz Picasso who was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, and ceramicist. His quotes inspire me such as this one “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”
Musungu: As an artist, what do you think is the role of art in society?
Mr. Ndlovu: Art influences society by changing opinions, instilling values, translating experiences across space, time and more than just self-expression and it defines individuals and makes people better.
Musungu: Any cool place you can recommend for the first time visit in Bulawayo?
Mr. Ndlovu: I will recommend Matopo hills magnificent granite wilderness.
Musungu: Do you have any regrets in life?
Mr. Ndlovu: No regrets in life.
Musungu: And what is your favourite sport? Your favourite team?
Mr. Ndlovu: My favourite sport is football. The local team is Highlanders and international is Liverpool.
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