Using art to change mindsets

On Saturday afternoon, the art gallery at Jacaranda Cultural Centre’s (JCC) opened its doors to a unique and first-of-its-kind art exhibition.

The art exhibition themed The Beauty in Black by artist Madalitso Ziwaoh seeks to fight the notion that anything black is of less value while at the same time, projecting the beauty and potential that lies in black people.

According to the artist, for long, African children have grown up with negative thoughts about being black as they were told that being black was equal to being a failure, loser, poor, less knowledgeable and lacking in a talent of note.

Ziwaoh: There is a vibrant beauty in black

He says the lack of self-confidence and pride in being black is better reflected in the efforts some black people engage in such as bleaching of their skin. The artist says the exhibition is about bringing out the beauty in being black, the potential, love and peace.

“Beauty comes from a beautiful heart. There is a vibrant beauty in black. We are better off being genuine and sincere about ourselves as opposed to trying to be something we are not by bleaching our skins,” he says.

The art exhibition started on an impressive note on Saturday as patrons from all walks of life flocked to the JCC gallery to appreciate the great and beautiful paintings which had transformed the space into something like a rainbow.

The paintings, which were full of smiling faces of African youths, portrayed the beautiful side of being black which is often hidden to the outside world.

Ziwaoh says the platform will also help in unlocking the potential that is in everyone regardless of their colour.

He says: “We have the potential, so many talents and skills, we are intelligent and beautiful. There is no need to be looking down on ourselves.”

The artist says painting, just like any other forms of art such as music, visual art has the power to change people’s mindsets and create awareness.

Ziwaoh says: “Art sends out messages, entertains and preaches about love and happiness. Art speaks louder because it always has a story to tell.”

He says he started developing the interest in the art of painting while in primary school as a nine-year-old. An exercise in which the class was asked to draw people proved to be the beginning of an artistic journey which has now earned him a positive reputation now.

“I did better than anyone in class. I then started sketching faces of my mates. I could make them stand in front of me as I drew their faces. I have never attended any art class so this is the only training that I gave myself,” the artist says. 

Ziwaoh specialises in painting portraits, landscapes, abstracts, wildlife, mural 3D paintings and sign writing.

JCC deputy director Constance Thyangathyanga said they were glad to offer the artist the opportunity to showcase his artistic expression which is able to portray human emotion on the canvas which is rare.

She said: “He has captured a soulful essence of the black/African existence in the various portraits which people will surely love. The artworks are in various mediums so it is a diverse collection. We are happy to host Madalitso.”

The art exhibition, which is free of charge, is expected to run until March 2.

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