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Nyoni mobilises social cohesion through wildlife, nature

Life & Style
The exhibition was held under the theme From Grass to Grace.

DOMBOSHAVA-BASED paint artist Descent Nyoni appreciates the partnerships created in the recent French embassy’s Bulawayo Alliance Française-sponsored exhibition despite failing to garner more sales due to low turnout.

The exhibition was held under the theme From Grass to Grace.

“Few people came to the Alliance Française in Bulawayo and I only managed one artwork sale,” Nyoni told NewsDay Life & Style.

“The quality of my works might be good, but the materials used, unfortunately, lowers the price of the artworks. I did a solo exhibition recently in conjunction with the embassy of France.

“I’m looking forward to having another solo exhibition at the National Art Gallery in Bulawayo and I think it will be next year. I only had an art tour last year with other artists and the National Art Gallery in Bulawayo. We went to Bubi Valley in Beitbridge.”

Nyoni credits multi-award-winning artist Keith Zenda for polishing his skills for wildlife and nature inspirational drawing from a tender age.

Nyoni enrolled at the National Art Gallery School for Visual Arts and Design, where he was exposed to various subjects, including sculpture, printmaking, painting, photography and graphic design.

Born on January 16, 2001, Nyoni, like Zenda, values good citizenship and addressing social issues through entertaining visual art carvings, paintings and or drawings.

He said his painting of the Victoria Falls, a spectacular waterfall located along the course of the Zambezi River in Matabeleland North province, was a message that Zimbabwe takes pride in this natural wonder.

Nyoni dedicated the picturesque Victoria Falls painting to people around the world who have never visited the majestic resort town.

A similar message is communicated by Afro-fusion pop outfit, Mokoomba.

“These balancing rocks are an insignia that I love landscapes. I love nurture, the green leaves and grass and the zebras too. They remind me of a place in Beitbridge called Bubi Valley, it’s a beautiful place for tourists and it’s a game park which has many animals,” he said.

“Keith Zenda introduced me to painting and mixed media, and I began inspiring others at school, who also came to believe in the power of art. He also encouraged me to further my studies.”

Nyoni said Zimbabwean visual artists faced the challenge of high costs of paint and fabric, which restricted their growth.

He pointed out that a lack of a clear-cut national strategy for visual arts is prohibitive in reaching and accessing lucrative international markets.

“I have resolved to hang some of my paintings on my bedroom walls because I have not been able to access the gallery and conducive markets for my creative works.

“In most cases, I used cheaper materials that I could afford, which made my paintings look more inferior to established artists’,” he said, adding that most artists were selling their artworks on the streets.

“As artists we can be happy if the government, through the relevant ministry, provides lasting solutions to the visual art industry and build more galleries and supportive infrastructure. There should be more art schools so that we can have a special space for art. We want to work hard and hope the world will open its doors to us as artists.”

Nyoni said he wanted to impart his skills to young people who have talent and “believe in their talent”.

“I would like to urge up-and-coming artists to work hard. They should not give up,” he said.

Through his grassroots projects, Zenda has seen the rise of artists such as Nyoni, Flora Maphosa, Samuel Sifani and Howard Nkomazana.

“These four visual artists are still being moulded despite that they have done exhibitions with the National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. The only challenge they are facing is lack of resources. Sometimes I get limited resources which I share with them. I use funds from my personal savings to assist them,” Zenda said.

He said Nyoni had exceptional talent which needed to be groomed, adding that given adequate financial and material support, he has potential to excel.

“As a young up-and-coming artist, he still has a lot of energy and passion as he is finding his own style of identity. It might take him longer as he grows. His work is influenced by his rural upbringing and now he has done his solo exhibition sponsored by the Alliance Française in Bulawayo and he was also sponsored for the residency workshop programme at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo. All these opportunities are now available to him after they saw his work and his potential,” Zenda said.

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