New Internationalist

Kingsley Maigwa

July 2007
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Kingsley Maigwa is my name; I live for art and paint to live. From the moment I received a slate and pencil at primary school, I became obsessed with drawing. I use oil or acrylic paint on canvas but like to experiment using fabric and other materials to add a third dimension to the people in my portraits. In the painting here, the woman’s clothes stand out from the background; in other cases a man’s hat rim reaches right out of the picture at you, made of the real material that the paint elsewhere simply imitates.

I paint the scenes of everyday life that I find around me, both in my home village of Zomba in the southeast of Malawi, and in the capital, Lilongwe, where I live now with my wife and child. The men, in particular, I often depict smoking a cigarette because this is so common here – tobacco is one of the crops we cultivate in Malawi and, for many, smoking has become a way of life. We have learned about the damage the smoke does to health and old habits will no doubt change but there is little sign as yet.

Life is not easy here in Lilongwe but I work extra hard and, God willing, I will be able to continue making a living as an artist. People interested in my paintings can contact me via [email protected]>

This column was published in the July 2007 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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