- Who is Madalitso Ziwaoh
Madalitso Ziwaoh is a Balaka based visual artist. He is male. He started drawing when he was in standard 2 in primary school in 1992 at Bangwe primary school in Blantyre. He started using paint in 2004 and started selling artwork in 2005.
- What made you start drawing in 1992 and what made you start using paint in 2004?
My class teacher, the late madam Nkolokosa asked our class to draw people playing football and of all drawings my drawing was the best. This made motivated me to draw even further. Then I was only using pencil and crayons. I sat for my MSCE in 2003 and then in 2004 I started drawing using paint. I am a self-taught artist.
- Aside from being a self-taught artist, do you have anyone who motivates and inspires you?
At first, to say the truth, I had nobody as an artist to inspire me. I only got inspired by people around me like my father who gave me great support. He gave me his pictures and those of his friends for me to draw. As I was growing up, I got to know other artists both locally and internationally through the internet. During this this time, I got inspired by Andrew Missi of Ndirande in Blantyre and David Kelly. Internationally, I was inspired by Caravaggio and Michael Angelo.
Everyday life and nature inspires me. I have different techniques of painting. I can paint hyper-realism (paint like it’s a photograph), abstract and any other technique. I am specialised in portraits, landscape, wildlife, murals, abstracts. I am much happy that I developed my own styles which make me recognised fast internationally. That is, if one sees my painting, they will know that is it Madalitso Ziwaoh’s painting even before seeing my signature.
- Artists name their articles. Do you do the same? If yes, what is your greatest piece.
Yes, every painting has a story behind and that is why we give it a tittle. I have plenty of great pieces but I think the one I painted SADC heads of states is my greatest piece because I even surprised myself how I did that by breaking a record of painting a big piece of 8 presidents in a period of 4 hours only. I’m saying this because it takes a week or more to finish one portrait painting.
- Who is your greatest audience?
Anyone is my audience. Never worked for a politician though. I could have said white people but like last year a lot of fellow Malawians welcomed my painting technique and they have given me much work to do up to this year, which has made me receive a good amount of commissions from Malawians too.
- If you are not drawing, what are you doing?
Travelling and discovering new places to get inspired by the beauty of nature. I also like to learn new things and people’s way of life and through that I get concepts for my artwork. I love listening to music too. Any kind of music works for me, however I find myself usually prefering slow music.
- If people are to know, how do you charge for your work?
It depends on concepts. Prices can change anytime according to prices of material. But for a portrait with one person costs 150 000 Malawi Kwacha only and with 2 people on a canvas is 250 000 Malawi Kwacha only as of now. This price is for a standard size of 80cm by 60cm. That is for a commissioned portrait though.
- Any challenge you’ve faced so far?
That challenge is lack of art market since in Malawi we don’t have a national gallery. Art materials are also very expensive. The biggest challenge was a story behind the SADC painting I did which is still with me up to now. What happened was that the president of Madagascar who was really interested in purchasing the painting reversed his decision because Malawi’s state house promised to buy it for president Chakwera but later after the President of Madagascar left, the state house changed its narrative and here it is still with me.
- As an artist, how do you go you about dealing with such challenges?
I always come up with different ideas to have art projects that will give the public attention so that they can have access to my works. I believe that marketing is not always about cash by selling artwork. One good strategy is having a good relationship with people and posting in different social media apart from having art exhibitions.
- What are your short and long term goals?
To have art gallery and cultural centre. Hosting art workshops and have a shop of affordable art materials.
- How do you mingle drawing and other things that you do?
80% is for my work and the other 20% is for friends and relatives, church and other activities.
- What advice would you give to upcoming artists in your field?
Never copy other artist’s work. You will only fail and never create your own identity. Be you. Secondly, keep on pursuing your passion despite risks and fears. By doing that you inspire other people to do the same.
- DYV conducts panel discussions. If you are asked to provide a title for a discussion, what would it be?
Creativity and team work.
14. Any last word that you have for young Africans?
Let us promote creativity industry because that is the best way to develop Malawi. artists need much support.
Interviewed by: Jonas Zaithwa Chisi
Edited by: Consolata Mthetwa