Shattered dreams: Zvenyika finds comfort in paint art

BY KIMBERLY KARIATI

CHIPINGE-BORN rising visual artist Calvin Khumbulani Zvenyika says her shattered dreams to become an electrical engineer had moulded him to be the artist he is today.

Now a paint artist, Zvenyika told NewsDay Life & Style that his works constantly remind him of his African roots.

“My dream was to become an electrical engineer, but that dream was shattered when I failed Mathematics at ‘O’ Level. Little did I know that this would just be the beginning of my career as an artist at the age of 17,” he said.

The 20-year-old artist said he drew inspiration from his family and mentor Munyaradzi Chibaya, who has been in the industry for about two decades.

“I always had it in me, I was good at drawing since primary school. However, I never thought that art would be a paying job and a career, but after meeting Chibaya, I was so encouraged and decided to pursue it,” he said.

“I am what I am because of my mentor who never gave up on me. People always said I was talented, but this man (Chibaya) taught me the importance of art. He taught me everything from painting, mixing and sketching.”

Zvenyika said art for him meant a collection or reflection of the tribes that exist in Africa such as the Himba, Maasai, Hamer tribes, Bushmen and also wildlife.

“Before modernisation, Africans were rooted in culture and through my art I want to remind people of what being African meant back in the days. Here in Zimbabwe, it seems tribes are now non-existent, but people from Kenya can relate to the Himbas and those from Botswana are familiar with Bushmen,” he said.

“For me, art is identity, pride and a source of income. I really wish to keep our lineages known to our children and descendants. One day, my grandchildren will look at my paintings and be proud of where we come from as Africans. Look at tourists who visit Zimbabwe just to see its wonders. I feel I need to give them a great experience of who Africans are through art.”

Although Zvenyika bemoaned lack of local appreciation of his artworks, he said he would soldier on until he accomplished his dream.

“It seems people do not accept my work here in Zimbabwe, but I hope that one day, I will be recognised. In December 2019, I had the privilege of going to Tanzania at one of the biggest art galleries in Africa called The Culture Heritage. I met the owner and managed to sell seven pieces of work, something that I have never done here at home,” he said.

“It hurts me that here in Zimbabwe, I am usually misunderstood and my dream is to make an impact in my own nation through art. Maybe one day I will own an art gallery depicting culture and tribes.”

Zvenyika said art had made a positive impact in his life.

“Art has redirected my focus. While some young people are doing drugs, because I am always buried in my work, I am preserved,” he said.

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