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Just Because

Updated: Nov 13, 2022


“I’ve had a keen interest in expressing myself creatively ever since I can remember. I started drawing at an early age, scribbling in schoolbooks, mainly to impress girls… But, I never actually thought of pursuing art as a career – I didn’t even know it was a thing!”


Despite a fondness for doodling, Ndako Nghipandulwa’s formal art education is limited to a short stint in primary school, as preference was given to honing interests like veterinary science, aviation, and civil engineering. The latter enjoyed the most attention, as the subject matter on which Nghipandulwa later concentrated his tertiary education, and thereafter spent almost a decade working in the industry. “I’ve wanted to be a lot of things in my life, but my dad was a civil engineer, so that partly steered me. Plus, I had good grades,” he adds with a smile.


The demands of working life dominated Nghipandulwa’s time for some years, until finally and as fate would have it, circumstances pushed him to dust off his artistic tools again. “In 2014/15, the country was hit by an economic recession, and as the construction industry was one of the first to be affected, I found myself without a job. The only thing I had to keep me going was my art.” He returned to drawing as a means to pass the time, uploading some of the works to social media platforms, and it wasn’t long until people started asking if they could buy it. “That’s pretty much how I started being a fulltime artist – it wasn’t intentional, the situation led me here.”


Seven-odd years later, and Nghipandulwa is finally gracing his ever-growing fan base with a first solo collection, Just Because. He explains, “In the beginning, I was doing a lot of experimenting, trying to find myself, figuring out what medium I want to use, what artworks to create.” Amongst others, he dabbled with wood sculpting, pencil drawing, and nail and string art. “I believe I’ve narrowed it down now. I’ve started seeing a lot more structure in my work, and that’s what gave me the confidence to take on this solo exhibition.”


The exhibition displays what has become Nghipandulwa’s signature style in string and nails, but with the integration of fabrics and the odd addition of paint. “Other than one or two geometrical shapes, I’ve incorporated African material into most of my artworks, to reflect the African experience and show the viewer what it’s like to be African – highlighting our triumphs, sorrows, and so on.”


While this might be his first solo, the artist has various other personal achievements under his belt, including capturing the attention of celebrities through his creative representations of them. Among these, our very own Maria Nepembe, South African actress Connie Ferguson, and Nigerian rapper Ice Prince. Since 2018, he’s also made use of opportunities to partake in local groups exhibitions, artists’ workshops, private commissions and charity auctions. Most recently, he was invited to exhibit one of his works at the Beijing International Art Biennale (held from 18 January to 1 March 2022), an accomplishment he calls, “The one that stands out most for me so far”.


Get a taste for Nghipandulwa’s world in nail and string between 21 October and 5 November at The Project Room in Lazarette Square, 30 Julius Nyerere Street.


Below you will find the catalogue


Just Because
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