Art in Malawi

Interview to Amabel Lisa Banda – Visual Artist in Malawi

Interview to Amabel Lisa Banda

Amabel Lisa Banda

Age 26
Current City Lilongwe, Malawi

Brief Bio
Amabel is a 26 year old visual artist who lives and works in Lilongwe, Malawi. As a Malawian native, Amabel draws her inspiration from the beauty of Africa and African bodies, she especially loves to showcase the beauty of the black female form and the power that is holds. Amabel holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College as a Fine Arts major and a Philosophy and Classics minor. She works mostly on canvas and paper, using acrylic paint, oil paint and pencils. Lately, she has also been getting into painting wall paintings for working studios and personal spaces of her clients. Amabel’s work has been shown at exhibitions such as “Melanonia” which is a movement coined by Creative Menace to celebrate black skin, “Feminart” which was organized by Story Club Art Cafe, as well as exhibitions organized by artistic places such as Afrochoc and ArtGlo.

Notable Artworks

Name of Painting: Gold Leaf

A piece from her first solo exhibition. Aimed at celebrating the northern African female body. Most of the women are tall, slim and dark and that aesthetic has always appealed to her. She is dressed in bright African colours but she is topless which is on par with some of the culture but also shows the breaking of limitations placed on the female body. The gold leaf represents her royalty which is a token of divinity.

Name of Painting: Red Brows

Another piece from her solo exhibition. Experimenting with lines and colours. Inspired by the female black form.

Interview

Interview Date: July, 2021

“Seeing how other artists play with subjects and colours nudges my own ideas and helps me come up with works of my own.

MALAWI PLUS
MALAWI PLUS
What is your thought process like when you’re creating art and where do you draw inspiration from?

I mostly get my inspiration from other artists. There are so many talented artists and the internet is awesome because we can access each other’s work from all over the globe. Seeing how other artists play with subjects and colours nudges my own ideas and helps me come up with works of my own.

MALAWI PLUS
MALAWI PLUS
Which artists do you look up to and do you have a mentor?

I look up to any young artist in Malawi. Some that I studied with and some that I know of based off social media. Right now my favourite artist is someone known as Izzako on Twitter. Her style is amazing. I also do have a mentor, Jethro Longwe who is a very talented and accomplished Malawian artist. I’ve learnt so many things from him about the industry and improving my skills and creativity.

MALAWI PLUS
MALAWI PLUS
Where can people buy your paintings?

From me. People order my paintings, which are usually customized or I announce on my social media pages that I have new pieces and sometimes I have exhibitions. From August, I will have some of my pieces available at the Lilongwe sanctuary shop and a few other creative places.

MALAWI PLUS
MALAWI PLUS
What is your favourite part about creating art?

That moment when everything is coming together. Every piece of art is something that you technically haven’t done before which is why its creating right, so its sort of like experimenting and at first you’re not really sure, you’re just seeing how it’ll turn out. Then at some point you see that things are coming together and the image is forming, it’s a marvellous feeling. That’s my favourite part.

MALAWI PLUS
MALAWI PLUS
How do you know when a painting is done?

Usually when it looks like what I pictured in my head. Or when I know that continuing to paint will ruin the painting.

MALAWI PLUS
MALAWI PLUS
How has your practice changed over time?

Well now I don’t take as long to finish a painting. It used to take me months just to paint a portrait of a real person, now I can do it in a week. With practice, I’ve improved my skill set. But the goal is to always get better as well as trying new aspects of art.

MALAWI PLUS
MALAWI PLUS
Are you satisfied with the way your art has been received?

Yes and no. I get pretty good feedback from people about my art but the art industry, like many industries in Malawi, is very poorly developed. The government as well as the art department at Chancellor College fall short when it comes to pushing the industry. But I do feel people are more receptive to art than they were 10 or 20 years ago mainly because of modernisation and globalization.

MALAWI PLUS
MALAWI PLUS
What is your dream project?

Right now my dream project is to work with other female creatives, not just painters, but photographers, digital artists, poets and musicians to give people that artistic experience. I think a lot of Malawians don’t get to experience art and I’d like to give them that.