When I received an email from an up-and-coming visual artist, I almost dismissed him. The idea of an artist reaching out to the Arts Desk in such a manner sounded too eager to put it mildly. But I had to see if the artist has any potential.
When I finally reached out to him to WhatsApp, I discovered how wrong I was to have judged Solomon Magedi for publicity.
Our talk started with a little test which I put forward to the a 21-year-old nurse to draw my face using my WhatsApp profile picture. Exactly 30 minutes later, he gave me the results that left me speechless.
“I realised that I have this talent back in 2009 after writing my Standard Eight examinations. Since I had a lot of idle time, I decided to embark on a drawing field course and in due time I realised that I was actually good at it,” said Magedi.
He said though he has been practising ever since, he pursued a professional career in nursing.
“I have a diploma in nursing and midwifery obtained from St John’s College of Nursing and Midwifery in Mzuzu,” said the artist.
He said during the years of making sketches, his mother has been his number one fan.
“My mother encouraged me to always do better and would advise and give me tips after showing her my sketches,” he added.
Magedi also advances his skills by getting tips from other artists he admires.
He said: “I improve my drawing skills like blending which is adding colour to the drawings for them to look realistic. My association with these people really helped me advance each and every day.”
He said art is rewarding but the problem is many do not appreciate it as is the case in advanced countries where visual artists fetch good money.
“I think there is a need for Malawi to recognise that there is much talent in our country which can attract more revenue. As such, visual artists need to be recognised and given support in terms of art galleries where they can work and display their artworks,” he said.
An art critic Alice Kalikwembe said visual artists should be more creative if they are to break new ground.
“Yes, there is talent in Malawi but I feel they limit themselves to portraits of people’s faces. They should move on from there and do something more creative,” she said.
Magedi, however, said the few that appreciate art in Malawi do support his works and always pay him after getting his artworks.
“I only use plain papers and pencil to make my pieces. But when I am done those who really appreciate art do pay me for such works, which is very fulfilling,” he said.
The up-and-coming artist has made drawings of famous people like Vice-President Saulos Chilima, leader of opposition Lazarus Chakwera and musician Tay Grin.