Chinhoyi painter dreams big Jamu’s portrait of President Mnangagwa

Sydney Kawadza Chinhoyi Bureau
Artists, in whatever form, are quite difficult to understand especially when their work is associated with fancy names.
According to the website Personal Growth, there is this forbidden question asked by many when confronted with a piece of art: “What does the artist want to say with this piece of art?”

If you ever dare to ask this question you might earn awkward silence, lifted eyebrows or even a patronising smile.
You most certainly won’t get a satisfying answer, it further states.
Personal Growth, a platform where independent writers share stories and ideas, argues that there is always a misunderstanding!

“A common misconception is that artists want to deliver some sort of message. In order to deliver that message they wrap it up in beautiful images or sculptures. By that logic it would be up to the viewer to unwrap that package, crack that fortune cookie, and decode the message.”

According to famous artist Pablo Picasso: “The world doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?”
Even Chinhoyi-based artist Raphael Jamu would rather give a modest answer to what goes in his mind when he paints.
“Usually, when I am working on a piece, I would be trying to express the beauty of Mother Nature especially in the African context. I usually do African art history or cultural art to express our African lifestyle,” he said.
Art is also in-born, it grows out of someone, he says.

“I became an artist through copying my brother’s art works when l was doing Grade 1 at Chebanga Birimahwe Primary School in Magunje around 1983.

“For someone who didn’t do any formal art training during that period I mastered it, it has also grown within me up to today where I am trying to take to another level,” Jamu said.

His desires and ambitions has seen Jamu launch the “Art in the Making Project” for 2017 where he is painting portraits while trying to make money out of it.

“There are targeted portraits for all African Heads of State and Government from our own Cde ED Mnangagwa, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and others in the Sadc region. It’s really much of a fundraising programme aimed at establishing the Hillock Arts Foundation which I am trying to establish to promote my dreams and aspirations.

Jamu seeks to establish an arts centre based in Borrowdale, Harare, with a head office displaying a variety of art.
He needs to acquire paints, tables, chairs, drawing lights among others for the centre.
“We started the project in January this year and will look at accommodating artists from all disciplines including drawing, painting, stone sculpture, wood curving, theatre, music, dance and poetry.

“The project is still at ground level and I hope to start establishing it in August this year when l believe I will be financially stable,” he said.
The Chinhoyi-based artist has done portraits for President Mnangagwa, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga among other prominent politicians.

Others include Minister of State for Provincial Affairs in Mashonaland West Webster Shamu, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangudya and Zanu-PF National Secretary for Administration and Home Affairs Minister Cde Obert Mpofu.

Jamu is also widening the arts and working with student across Zimbabwe.
“Am mentoring young people from the age of eight. I have an art class in Chinhoyi where we are still operating at a home with one of my students, Splendit Chitanda in Brundish, Chinhoyi, making waves in the sector.

“I am also working with 18 students from the Chinhoyi University of Technology, 12 in Mutare, 28 in Harare, 12 in Gweru, Bulawayo (six) and in Mvurwi there are 33,” he said.

Jamu, who is married and has one child, is also facing challenges including lack of resources to produce good art works to compete with other international visual artists.

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