Chalira’s hearty strokes

Establishing yourself in the art world is tough. It is, at most times, known for elitism, where connections to the right people could prove to be just as important as talent.

Painting, for some, is one such art. And, in more than one ways.

Chalira works on different media, including acryllic

Visual artist Mayamiko Chalira has a bright future because he was

introduced into paintings by a colleague, the late Suke Kenani who was an aspiring fine artist.

Together, they first received mentorship from a minor tutorial class from the French Cultural Centre (FCC).

The artist says the most important attachment to build a career is to connect with people, who help in forming insights about life.

“We used to meet every Fridays and Saturdays for tutorials. However, with passion for art, I worked hard and practiced in my free time for two years,” he says.

The artist developed his talent despite his difficult circumstances after losing his dad who was his art critic.

Passionate about art and painting, the resilient young man taught himself how to create beautiful and creative paintings while living in Soche East, Blantyre.

Background in the art

His passion for visual arts began when he was young and sketched his favourite comic book heroes.

“I started long time ago while in primary school at St Pius Boys Primary School. Of course, my favourite subject was art and craft, even at secondary school where I joined the art club and I was the main cartoonist,” he recalls.

Artists, some say, are born not made. But whether or not Mayamiko was born an artist he refused to let his lack of opportunities and privilege hinder his artistic growth.

Determined to learn more about art and to take his natural talents to another level, he taught himself professional art and continued practicing for perfection.

New age promotion

Understanding the power of digital platforms, Mayamiko decided to use social media to promote his work after he realised that traditional galleries don’t have the capacity to support young artists.

“In most circumstances, I get customers through the social platforms. However, I get commissioned work and I do this after knocking off and during weekends,” he explains.

Mayamiko’s art is inspired by the magical moments of everyday life, including people’s relationships and interactions.

Thoughts on media

He said that he makes all paintings using brushes, oil paints, water colours, acrylic paints and Polyvinyl Acetate (PVA), pastel plywood and nails, among others.

“I use both pencil and brush, when I have such materials in stock. Most importantly, I ensure that customers get good value for their money,” he added.

Challenges in the art

The artist says the main challenge has always been finding the right market for his products.

“There is a need for a national art gallery to boast tourism and sales. However, lack of art suppliers is another contributing element. Government should do something to this long time outcry,” he mourns, like many other Malawian visual artists.

Mayamiko also believes that once Malawians generally change their attitude towards visual arts, the whole landscape will change.

He adds: “We have good artists but they can’t source art materials. For instance, I import most of my materials from South Africa, which is expensive. Any positive change in the industry would most certainly mean artist earning a living from their talent.”

And the future…

Ironically, Mayamiko says, his vision for the future is to extend far beyond Malawi borders.

As a way of getting international exposure, the artist says he is in the process of designing a website which will among others help young artists.

Probably that explains why he hopes to start his own studio which would help promote young artists as well and help others refine their talents.

“Basically, I want to participate in international exhibitions and competitions. And open an art gallery/ framing studio and training new and the up-and-coming young artists,” he said.

He hopes to share his skills and enthusiasm for art with others, by providing others with the opportunities they did not have.

He says: “I have completed pictures on my Facebook page for all paintings. And people can check them at Mayamiko Chalira-Fine Artist.”

Faida Magalasi, 23, is one of his customers, she said the artist had shown the country that fine arts was not just a way to express onself – it could also be a valuable career.

She challenged Malawians to rethink their negative stereotypes about fine art.

His paintings, depend on size and whether it is a group or single portrai and range from K50 000 to K300 000 without framing.

The artist locally draws inspiration from late Chiromo while on the international scene, he says John Mayer of South Africa and Fredric Remington from the USA make him stroke more.

Apart from the art, he studied Insurance at Malawi College of Accountacy and he is a Chartered Insurer who is currently working for Nico General.

The artist, married to Esther and has two children,  Cuthbert and Angel.

He hails from Ulisa Village, Traditional Authority Mkumpha in Likoma District.

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