There was a time when gifted painter Admire Kamudzengerere used to depict life on sheets of old newspapers with his paint brush because canvas was priced way out of his reach.
Like many an artist battling to stand out in a crowd, his was a painstaking journey and he believes that The 5th Column — his first ever solo exhibition which opens today at the National Gallery — could also mark his first major break.
Kamudzengerere said the exhibition was like a step forward in his career.
He said: “I’m trying to declare my space among other contemporary artists. I’m seeking to have my own space.”
He said because of the stiff competition in the industry, it was difficult for upcoming artists to be established. The artist, who has been living off his art works and part-time teaching, started art while doing his A-Levels at Hatfield High School in 1999.
Although he studied Accounting, Economics and Management of Business, he found the pull of art too strong to resist and, ironically, had to fight his family’s resistance to his dream.
“It was difficult for my family to accept that,” he recalled.
“I deliberately applied for a university place late to avoid going there.”
But when he made his first sale, he got so much money it took him several months to spend it.
The artist then opted to read for a Diploma, Institute of Marketing and Management, which enabled him to pursue his art dream.
When teaching art, he said, the idea was to give students the basic techniques that would allow them to develop their talents, rather than telling them what to do and what not to do.
As a chess player, he said, the motif of chess runs strongly in his works, looking at how people are like pawns on the chess board, manipulating each other to achieve their ends.
Although he said he did not commercialise his pieces, they can fetch anything between $150 and $1 500.
Most of his buyers were foreigners, he said, adding that locals did not seem to have an appreciation of the fine arts.
“Even some of my friends still don’t understand what I’m doing,” he chuckled.