7 Visual Artists From Zambia You Should Know

Discover Zambias need-to-know artists
Discover Zambia's need-to-know artists | © Chamille White / Shutterstock

The art scene in Zambia has gone through highs and lows (the shutting down of many galleries amid the economic crisis in in the early to mid 90s), but in spite of that, artists have continued to create works of art that have been exhibited globally. These are the seven visual artists from Zambia you should know.

Henry Tayali

Henry Tayali is one of Zambia‘s most celebrated fine artists and sculptors. He had his first exhibition at 15, and throughout his career, drew inspiration from everyday life in Zambia. His paintings featured people at bus stops, taverns and markets. During and after the independence period, Tayali’s work was more abstract as it focused on political themes. One of his most known works is Destiny, an oil painting which he worked on from 1975 to 1980. Tayali’s work (paintings and sculpture) can be seen at the Henry Tayali Visual Arts Center which is situated at the Showgrounds in Lusaka, and was named in his honor after his death. Other places his work can be seen are at Chaminuka Lodge which holds one of the largest private collections of Zambian art, and the Lechwe Trust Gallery.

Agnes Buya Yombwe

Agnes Buya Yombwe’s career in art began when she won a drawing competition in high school. She then went on to become a high school art teacher at the Evelyn Hone College, one of two higher learning institutions in the country that offer diplomas in art. Yombwe attended the Wimbledon school of Art in England and has exhibited in Germany, England, Botswana, Norway and Zambia among others. As a painter, sculptor and textile artist, she produces work that focuses on highlighting taboo issues such as gender-based violence and myths around menstruation in the African context. Yombwe runs a gallery and studio called Wayi Wayi in Livingstone with her husband, Lawrence Yombwe who is also an acclaimed visual artist. In 2015, she released her Kundumbisiana (‘dialogue’) catalog featuring her previous work.

David Daut Makala

David Makala is self-taught freelance sculptor and painter who has been producing art professionally since 2006. His paintings often combine acrylic paint with with a staining technique and feature embedded objects. Makala’s work has been exhibited at various locations in Zambia such as the Lusaka National Museum, Alliance Francaise and the Henry Tayali Gallery. Some of his most interesting work is from a solo show in May 2017 held at the 37D Gallery run by the StART foundation called Rites of Passage, which explored ceremonies such as initiation.

Stary Mwaba

Stary Mwaba uses sculpture and paintings to reflect on Zambia’s past and future – his exhibition at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin in 2015 was called Life on Mars, and was inspired by the Zambia Space Program of the 1960s. Other work includes a series called Chinese Cabbage, which tackles Zambia’s relationship with China, a major financial donor to many countries on the continent including Zambia. Mwaba’s work, which includes acrylic, mixed media, wire mesh, chitenge (cotton print with designs) and other materials, has been featured in New York, London, Johannesburg, Ghana and in Lusaka at various venues. He has been featured on CNN Africa and gave a TED Talk on ‘Redefining art as a tool for development‘ at Ted X Lusaka in 2016.

Milumbe Haimbe

Milumbe Haimbe obtained degrees in Fine Art and Architecture, both of which inform her work in digital illustration. She is inspired by superheroes and the lack of black and female characters in comics, so she created her own graphic novel called The Revolutionist with a female protagonist. The novel deals with issues like racism and same-sex love. Haimbe’s work has been exhibited in Washington DC at the Smithsonian where she was an Artist in Residence in 2015, as well as in New York, Switzerland, South Africa, Norway and other countries.

Nukwase Tembo

Nukwase Tembo’s paintings are vibrant and colorful. The visual artist, who has been on the art scene for the last few years, is inspired by the surrealist movement. One of her most known works is a collage acrylic painting called The Status Quo, which shows a black-bodied beauty queen with a white face holding the head of a black woman. It is meant to challenge current beauty standards which prefer a westernized image. In 2016, Tembo was selected as one of the finalists of the 2016 Barclays L’Atelier, one of Africa’s most prestigious art competitions. Her work has been exhibited at the Henry Tayali Gallery, and at the Lusaka Museum as part of the Kuboneshago all-female artist exhibition in 2017, among other venues.

Gladys Kalichini

Gladys Kalichini is a two-dimensional visual artist who specializes in drawing, painting and photography. Her areas of interest include colonial history, marginalization and memory, and she uses the female form silhouette in most of her work. She has exhibited at The Lusaka Museum, The Henry Tayali Gallery, and 37D Gallery, and has participated in artist residencies in Miami under The Fountainhead Residency, The Asiko International Art Program in Lagos, and in South Africa.

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