A walk around the newly built Amaryllis Hotel in Blantyre reveals one thing: a touch of art on some of the selected walls and places inside the new building. The colourful paintings are a marvel to look at. The name behind the touch is Dalitso Alexioua Disi. The artist is a household name among visual art lovers in the country.
A talk with him reveals that the young man is a passionate artist who is not only earning a living from the trade, but is trying to promote it among Malawians. The artist uses his hands to produce pieces of art which add colour to walls and homes.
Disi says being a visual artist is a calling on his part and when he is given a task, he does it with ease and passion.
“ I realised I am an artist before I was five years old. My cousin Helbert Mangulama drew car tracks on sand when we were in the village which interested me. I imitated him and before long I was drawing far much better than him,” said Disi.
He said in primary school, his teachers would always ask him to draw maps on chalk boards for fellow pupils to use when learning.
“During my childhood I was popular for drawing cartoons, and it felt good. I have never stopped,” he said.
Disi says the journey as a visual artist has been both good and challenging.
He said: “People of Malawi that first saw my art told me I was good and that I should take it as a fulltime career. Others who despise art discouraged me, including some relatives. But I decided to follow my heart and, therefore, I abandoned my IT job and became a fulltime visual artist producing murals, portraits, decorating walls and everything in between.”
The artist disclosed that the art is paying him well, saying he has done jobs which has paid him up to K15 million at a go.
Some of his clients are hotels, schools, people’s homes and entertainment centres.
“My plan in the future is to open an arts school for Malawians to study all crafts. I also want to help local visual artists by linking them up with international markets,” said Disi.
He said from his trade he hopes to open an orphanage centre where he can take care of some orphans and street kids.
The art market in Malawi
Disi says Malawians appreciate art a lot.
“As Malawians we are artists. Everything we see in this country is art. Talk of brooms, mphasa, hoes, jerseys knitted by local women. That is all pure art
“These days I get booked to make portraits of people, decorate walls of homes, hotels, schools and other places where people gather. Art is needed everywhere,” he said.
Disi said Malawians need to nurture these skills.
“In many countries people do not abandon their cultural art skills like knitting. We must start doing the same here and before long these things will be appreciated and get their deserved value,” said Disi.
The artist, who uses charcoal, pastel, acrylic sheen paints and canvas for his art, says the trade has taken him to places and afforded him a decent life.
Said Disi: “When I travel I charge in dollars. I try my best to be original and produce art works according to my imagination and clients needs.”
Disi points out his trip to United Arab Emirates where he studied art for a year as unforgettable.
“I was based in Adu Dhabi. While there I participated in the World Cup preparations. We drew sketches of football players, an exercise that took over a month,” he disclosed.
Humphrey Kaphiri, an art enthusiast, says he would like to learn the trade and be like Disi one day but does not know how best to go about it.
“You wonder how such artists get their clients and polish up their trade. But in Malawi I feel we the aspiring artists do not stand much of a chance,” he said.
Perhaps Kaphiri will one day be a beneficiary of Disi’s planned arts school. Only time will tell. n