Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Zambian woman and child on canvas: Paintings by award winning artist Nsama Lombe


Nsama Lombe stands next to his painting at Henry Tayali Visual Arts Centre

Story and Pictures Hope Mkunte

The Legendary painter Henry Tayali spent most of his professional life trying to set up a fine art school in Zambia. His dream is yet to be realised, but his art has inspired a whole generation of bold Zambian painters who are defying the odds and making their mark in art. One such artist is Nsama Lombe. The soft spoken artist is well known for his acrylic paintings that document Zambian women and children in their daily lives

What motivates me to do my work? Nsama Lombe repeats the question to himself. The award-winning painter ponders it for a moment as we sit in the Henry Tayali Gallery in the Showgrounds where I am interviewing him for this article.

The woman that I see every day.” He says. “Women and children are my favourite subject because I find it amusing and inspiring how Zambian women respond to the challenges of life.

Nsama Lombe is a seasoned painter and his paintings show it.

I have been painting for more than 10 years now. I discovered my talent at an early age, in primary school. I used to draw on the back of my books and often this landed me in trouble with my teachers but I kept on and my parents saw that I like painting so they bought me colouring books. Of-course initially the painting was pretty childish, me and my friends would draw our dream cars and things like that.”

He teaches art full time at Twin Palm Secondary School in Kabulonga

I trained at Evelyn Hone College as an art teacher and because of my teaching I paint part time, but everything I do is around art, whether I am teaching or painting.”

Talking about his art students, Nsama says he sees a lot of promising talent in his classes.

The discouraging factor is that we do not have art schools in Zambia for these young painters to take their craft to the next level. Of-course the government is now doing more to uplift the art industry for instance the Ministry of Tourism and Art was established, which is good.”

In 2012, he received the Henry Tayali Award for The Best Artist in 2 Dimensions at the Ngoma Awards.

It was one of my proudest moments winning this award but as an artist I am usually proud of the current piece that I am working on.

Despite not being a full-time painter, Nsama says he earns a reasonable amount of money from his paintings. The highest he ever made from a single piece was K20,000.

The piece I sold was titled ‘customer care’ . It was depicting a woman selling masuku on the side of the road. The piece was trying to show the entrepreneurial spirit of the Zambian woman, who without formal business training, is able to attract customers and retain them.

What determines how much a piece art is worth? Nsama says there are a lot of factors that determine the value of a piece.

One of the factors is how long you have been in the industry and your reputation. It’s debatable on size and mostly it’s the attachment you have to the painting. You know I can drip paint on a canvas and tell a story. So sometimes it’s the sentimental value you attach to it as a painter.

Nsama describes his painting style as semi-abstract. “I love playing round with texture and colour effect and suggesting the emotion behind the artwork”, reveals the soft spoken painter.

Nsama is currently running an art exhibition at the Henry Tayali Visual Arts Centre in the showgrounds along Aubrey and Sidney, two of his art colleagues. The exhibition started on the 28th of September and will end on the 15th of October. It’s open from 17:30 to 20:00hrs every day.

Barriers Broken painting by Nsama Lombe. It shows that there is hope for the Zambian girl child. Picture by Hope Mkunte
Barriers Painting by Nsama Lombe. Tries to portray the obstacles the Zambian girl child faces everyday. Picture by Hope Mkunte
Hidden Agenda painting by Nsama Lombe. It tries to show that there is more to a lot of things than they appear. Picture by Hope Mkunte
Strings Attached painting by Nsama Lombe. It shows how in today’s society things to come by without a few strings attached.Picture by Hope Mkunte (1)
Size Matters painting by Nsama Lombe depicting the obsession with sexual concoctions and herbs in the city Picture by Hope Mkunte (1)



    • @ Nubian Princess me too wish I’d buy these beautiful paintings but they are expensive! These same artists have no steady flow of income as ordinary Zambians can only admire their artworks when on display while purchases are limited to institutions as banks, foreign missions, museums, art galleries and, art collectors. Come to think of it, how many paintings do artists as Nsama Lombe get to sell on regular basis if not at the mercy of these institutions afore mentioned or at some charity function graced by some high ranking politician/official to help (arm twistingly) auction them? Its high time that cheaper copies (pictures) of these original paintings were being produced so art lovers who can not afford the original paintings can have something to buy and frame! Originals will always…

  1. I saw some idyot in Luanshya paying $2000 for Edgar’s face in a picture flame.
    Here are painting which make sense…

    • The problem with having one’s picture in flame is that the wood might warp during the lainy season. That’s why I like metal flames. Metal ones don’t catch fire either. On the other hand, if a wooden flame drops in a liver it might just froat to the other slide. So many things to consider.

      Or maybe it’s better just to save $2000 for something else than a picture of Edgar? Yep. That sounds good to me.

  2. Alternative Facts Fake News S**thole Countries Social Mobility Chinese Zambia Police Reservists Corruption scandals: Ambulances Fire Trucks Mukula Trees Ndola-Lusaka Rd Malawi Maizegate Fuelgate Swaziland landgate Zesco Loans Alternative Facts Fake News S**thole Countries Social Mobility Chinese Zambia Police Reservists Corruption scandals: Ambulances Fire Trucks Mukula Trees Ndola-Lusaka Rd Malawi Maizegate Fuelgate Swaziland landgate Zesco Loans

    On a serious note, can someone please tell me how/where I can purchase one of these paintings… these is authentic and exotic at the same time. It will connect me with my childhood everyday of my life.

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