Art that speaks on nature

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Sharon Kavhu

Windhoek – Shanfield McLeish Moyo’s artwork speaks volumes to wildlife lovers. Using charcoal and pencil, his work gives one a better appreciation of African wildlife. It looks so real!

Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the 23-year-old artist takes his time to bring out all the vibrant aspects of an image to make it livelier.

Among his several artworks of this year, what caught the attention of this writer is the piece on a zebra and buffalo dubbed ‘Wall of Comrades’ and ‘Death Stare’, respectively. 

‘Death Stare’ shows the expression that a male buffalo would give after a close encounter with a stranger. That expression, which is a clear warning that the stranger should stay away, and leaves the stranger contemplating what could possibly happen on the scene.

‘Wall of Comrades’ reflects on the nature of zebras, how they graze together and groom one another. In the event that one of the zebras is wounded, the family members protect it from predators that target the weakest. Their nature is similar to how comrades behave in their operations, they stick together and protect each other. 

Just like comrades wearing military wear in a war zone, the black and white stripes on the zebras make it difficult for predators to single out any of them to attack.

The Southern Times had an opportunity to interview, Moyo who described the concept of his work as driven by his love for wildlife and nature.

“I am in love with nature and it gives me so much joy and pride to tell the African wildlife story through art and that is why I take my time to bring out all details. The Wall of Comrades took me 120 hours to complete and I spread the hours from 16 to 25 February. I did the same for the Death Stare, which took me 120 hours, spread over three weeks, from March 4 to 25. It normally takes me about 15 hours to make a sketch of the piece and complete it before l begin shading,” said Moyo.

He said he gets his art concept from wildlife programmes and television channels such as the National Geographic.

“Through such channels, I learn more about nature and it has a deep spiritual impact on me. The more I discover new things about our nature, the more I see and appreciate our loving, powerful and wise creator,” he said.

He said he did the two art pieces while looking at the photograph of the subjects on his laptop.

While some artists draw using live subjects, Moyo said he prefers working with still objects. According to the artist, still subjects allow him more room to pay particular attention to detail compared to mobile or live subjects.

Born in a family of four, Moyo is the only artist within his family.  He never studied art in school, however, his art journey started in June 2011 when he was doing his high school.

“I was inspired by a fellow student’s talent in art after seeing his work. His work made me fall in love with drawing.  However, art was not part of the curriculum offered at my school. I never had formal training in art, as such I consider myself a self-taught artist,” explained Moyo.

He draws his inspiration from his mother’s phrases, particularly the one she told him in 2013, a week before she died.

“My mother told me: ‘There is no gift without a purpose’, a week before she passed away. These words have proven to be my biggest motivation everyday of my life,” Moyo said.

His siblings, extended family members, friends and his fans online support his work and their comments are also a source of motivation.

In 2014, he shifted his focus from art to his academics when he was doing his Advanced Level for two years. At that level, he studied Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology. He however, resumed drawing in 2016.

Moyo’s artwork of pencil and charcoal, which is commonly known as hypperrealism, has been exhibited in South Africa and art fairs in Zimbabwe.  On 2 June, his work will be exhibited during an annual fair in Zimbabwe - the Wildgeese Art Festival - where over 150 talents are expected to exhibit their works.

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