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Nixon Artist extraordinaire

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Blantyre-based veteran visual artist, Nixon Malamulo, has stunned many with his artworks.

Just recently, one of his artworks fetched a high price during an exhibition at the Jacaranda Cultural Centre (JCC), Mandala, in Blantyre.

Those familiar with the arts can testify that Nixon is no ordinary artist, and commands respect. No wonder, then, that, in July 2016, Rainseekers Arts in Education Conservatoire led by former deputy director of culture, Bernard Kwilimbe, decorated him with an award.

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He was one of the people decorated for championing the cause of visual arts and mentoring others.

Nixon has dedicated his life to visual arts and has, through his artworks, told different stories.

Through art, he has also managed to travel to different countries to exhibit his artworks, thereby selling Malawi – the so-called Warm Heart of Africa.

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Born on July 16 1958, Nixon is originally from Mwankhundi Village, Traditional Authority Kalonga in Salima.

A first born in a family of four, he is married. He has five children – three girls and two boys.

He did his primary school at Mpsyinda and Nkolokoti and later enrolled in distance education through International Correspondence School in United Kingdom because he was always on the move.

In 1980, he did his junior secondary school education at Mindolo in Zambia, although he did not sit for any examinations.

Nixon is the managing director of Nthililo Studios Art Gallery and School, which he established in 2000.

The veteran artist is also the initiator of the Visual Arts and Crafts Youth Free Training Skills project initiated in 2011.

His expedition in the art dates back to the late 1970s when he was living with Aubrey Moi, a visual artist with Halls Garage and Malawi Motors Limited’ as well as a Malawi Milk and Marketing as a sign writer.

“He was a very good artist and through him I was inspired to go into art,” Nixon said.

In the early 1990s, Nixon said he met Kato, also known as Fwande, a Congolese artist, who taught him impressionism and abstract techniques.

“In most of these techniques, I used lines, shapes and colours to express my feelings,” he said.

Nixon adds that he specialises in fine art, filmmaking and commercial photography.

In fine art, the old-timer favours impressionism, expressionism and abstracts.

“I have benefited a lot from art and got locally and internationally exposed and this has come in the form of attending workshops, seminars, festivals and exhibitions,” said the visual artist.

He said art is a God given gift which can be sharpened through observation but also attending various workshops.

Nixon said, although some quarters look down upon visual arts and art in general, this is a serious career. He said art has enabled him to visit places and that he has managed to acquire property such as land, among others.

“I do love what I do. This is what has pushed me to be where I am today and I am able to pay school fees for my children through the money I make from art,” he said.

Nixon said through his art, he has also managed to meet high profile people, and managed to work for some of them.

“As an artist I would not tell you that I am there. I am still learning and with technology taking its place, art is changing and so you have to be as creative as possible if you are to stand out; otherwise, you will be left behind,” he said.

Nixon described art as a dynamic field and calls on fellow artists to explore different areas.

“There is need to focus on the vision which led one to enter this industry and to have patience as rewards mostly come in the medium to long term. Again, as artists let us not fall into the habit of copying styles since these define a person’s identity,” he said.

“Let’s not be in the habit of being copycats; let’s have our own identity and that is what will give you a name but at the same time distinguish you from others,” Nixon said.

The veteran artist also said that art was not about having the resources and then painting or drawing but there was more into it.

“We need to be more creative as I said to stand out. These days, artists are failing to add ingredients to their work and breathe life into it. An artwork has to have life, it has to capture the attention of people, an artwork should not be dry,” Nixon said.

He said he was happy that one of his artworks sold at more than K200,000 during an exhibition at (JCC).

“The painting was unique in the sense that the style I used has my personal touch, the style was adapted from an international artist but I modified it to express the local mood and culture through contemporary technique,” said the artist.

With the country not that forthcoming in appreciating art and people not coming out to buy artworks to decorate their homes and offices, Nixon called upon the government and the corporate world to have an appreciation for visual arts.

“When you go in the offices, you will be surprised to see artworks of foreign artists hanging in the walls. Where are the artworks of Malawian artists? Again, there are projects which need artists but we are not utilised,” he said.

JCC and Maison de la France deputy director, Daisy Belfield, described Nixon as an amazing artist whose work is unique and it was because of his brilliant artworks that they organised his exhibition alongside his student Charles Levison.

The sell-out chart during the exhibition indicated that Nixon’s painting Market Scene – Evening [Oil on canvas] was the highest going at K280,000.

“It’s not easy to sell an artwork at the cost of K280,000 but that just shows you how good Nixon is. As JCC, we would want to give artists a platform to showcase their work and, at the same time, offer a platform for people to appreciate these artworks and buy them for use,” Belfield said.

She said they were looking forward to other exhibitions as part of promoting the country’s artists.

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