Zimbabwean artist draws inspiration from old legends to tell modern tales

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Image courtesy
Image courtesy

Zacharia Mukwira’s paintings are distinctly African. He credits his grandmother for inspiring his storytelling skills.

“The African stories that I paint are inspired by the growth that I had, being born from a Zambian grandmother. She’s the one who was telling us those stories when I was still a young boy. So as I was growing I started giving birth to the stories she was telling into visuals so that I could share with the world. So what I’m now doing is taking those spiritual stories into visual now,” said Zacharia Mukwira – artist.

“Zach’s approach is unique. It combines the ancient stories heard from his grandmother and the legends that he had lived with and the traditions that he’s lived with, with contemporary paintings. His images are very contemporary like his bar coding, like the numbers that he does on the sides. As he says, everything is barcoded we wear labels. It’s sort of a nod and a crossover between ancient and modern,” said Michele Roelofsen – owner, Ndiza Gallery.

Mukwira wants to share previously untold African stories with the world. He’s already exhibited in many countries.

“I had this passion to share these untold and then unheard African stories because every day we live our stories untold so I thought I’m here to share these stories so that I could share with them,” said Zacharia Mukwira – artist.

“We were just blown away by his talent and by his beautiful images and then he began his African stories and they melted our hearts and as Africans we need to retain ours stories. Our stories need to be told from our grandmothers, all of our stories need to be told,” said Michele Roelofsen – owner, Ndiza gallery.

Mukwira’s work has been commissioned by various galleries. One of his proudest achievements is showcasing his paintings in a chain of popular restaurants in South Africa.

” In 2005/6/7 I also had the opportunity to meet with people of Nando’s and they commissioned me to do paintings for their restaurants so I did a couple of paintings, about 30, which they distributed in different districts here in South Africa… “Said Zacharia Mukwira – artist.

Mukwira is also giving back to the new community he calls home. He shares his drawing and painting skills with children with disabilities, volunteering at visual arts institutions for young people in Cape Town.