For the first time in the history of visual arts in the country, youthful artist Ken Namalomba—son to veteran painter Samson—on Thursday last week unveiled a painting valued at K7.5 million.
The official public presentation of the painting, titled Broken Love, held at Blantyre’s Kwa Haraba Arts Gallery, generated a poignant atmosphere when patrons were given an opportunity to interpret the story behind the amazing painting.
Depicting fresh water falling into a mystery pot, which has cracks that eventually turn the water-like substance into blood then a red stream, the painting also features a bewildered woman and fingers pointing in different directions.
A close look at the painting reveals the scanty fresh water and the mystery pot attracting people’s attention despite their activities happening on a large mass body of water and soil. To some extent, the little activities happening on the mystery pot have blinded the people from exploring and utilising what is abundant around them.
As dejected as the painting looks, Namalomba delivered a sorrowful recitation as to what inspired him to create the Broken Love. When the painting was raised and put in front of the audience, it generated an awe admiration before attracting different interpretations and school of thoughts from the audience.
“This painting tells multiple sad stories that Malawi is currently experiencing. The stories range from Cashgate to social injustices Malawians are facing,” said Namalomba.
He, however, said Malawians are suffering while sitting on abundant wealth because their focus is on aid and debts, which are often abused and put poor people at ransom.
“If you look critically, Malawi’s focus is on foreign aid which is rendering its capacity and resources useless. Aid is good but it shouldn’t drive away our focus on exploring and utilising what we have as a country,” said Namalomba.
He singled out corruption as a serious issue which is derailing Malawi’s development and punishes poor people.
“There is broken love in Malawi because officials are enriching themselves at the expense of the poor. Their corrupt practices such as Cashgate, the stealing of maize money and others are having a terrible impact on poor people at the grassroots level,” said Namalomba.
The visual artist added that he sees no sense why Malawi should lack in a land of abundant natural resources such as lakes and rivers.
He urged fellow artists to tackle issues that are relevant to public life to help save the nation from doom.
“Malawi is too poor and corrupt for artists like me to focus on art for pleasure. It’s a shame that development is being lowered in the country because of selfishness,” said Namalomba.
He justified K7.5 million of his painting as too little compared to the suffering of Malawians.
Gilbert Mpakule, one of the top officials of Visual Arts Association of Malawi (Vaam), described the Broken Love as an amazing and reflective painting.
“This is the way to go. Visual artists should embrace arts for development to influence change in the country,” he said.
Mpakule, however, decried space for such amazing artworks to be displayed in the country.
Born on September 11 1990, Namalomba grew up in Blantyre where his father inspired him to pick interest in visual arts. He started studying arts under the support of Lovemore Kankhwani in 2009 soon after completing his secondary education. He later went to Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), to pursue Bachelor of Arts Humanities majoring in Philosophy and Fine Arts. Since then, he has been an ardent visual artist. n