Ambition, storytelling, originality–insights on artistic success from Forster Gallery
In our second photo essay from Zanzibar in East Africa, we showcase more creative artworks and curator insights on success.
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 715 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
In Part I of our photo essay on Zanzibar, we showcased some of the island’s natural beauty, design and art. In Part II, we feature more scenic splendour, architecture, crafts, and galleries.
One of the characteristic features of Swahili Coast buildings and monuments is the ornamented door, which reflects influences of trade and migration from India, Oman, and China. The doors are marked by the use of metal decorations and wooden motifs.
Citizens from Tanzania and elsewhere affirm the country’s reputation as a peaceful and progressive hub, endowed with natural charm and cultural diversity. Other great event attractions are the Zanzibar International Film Festival and music festivals like Sauti za Busara.
Artworks at the Forster Gallery Zanzibar have attracted buyers from around the world – US, Europe, and India. “Tanzania has a lot of potential in the art market,” gallery founder Markus Forster tells YourStory.
The gallery is working to help local artists build more confidence and original styles. “Success in the international market calls for creativity and energy,” Forster affirms.
Growing up in Switzerland and travelling across Europe, Forster was exposed to a wide range of art markets. In Africa, he has visited art events and auctions in cities like Nairobi. African art is featured in auction houses of Sotheby’s and Christie’s as well.
Forster Gallery features a range of artists from Tanzania and other African countries. For example, David Mzuguno, who was born in the rural north of Tanzania, has had his works shown across East Africa and East Asia.
The creative career of Tanzanian artist ES Tinga Tinga was short-lived due to a tragic accident, but his works are regarded as highly influential. George Lilanga was a prominent contemporary African artist across genres like sculptures, paintings, drawings, etchings, batiks, and metalwork.
Hendrick Lilanga was influenced by the artistry of his grandfather, and had long stays in Japan and South Korea. Sudanese artist Raja Oshi is now based in South Africa, and her artworks are displayed in Tanzania and UK as well.
Michael Soi was born in Kenya and graduated from the University of Science and Technology in Nairobi. He has exhibited in Europe and at the ‘1-54’ Contemporary African Art Fair.
Many artists portray nature and village scenes, but it takes courage and exploration to convey deeper social messages and abstract themes, according to Forster. This applies to paintings as well as other art forms and commentary like cartoons.
There are many artisans and craftsmen who make a livelihood by churning out decorative objects and dozens of paintings. But these are generally more for the tourist market than for serious art connoisseurs or art historians.
Forster also urges senior artists to spend time and energy in mentoring aspiring artists. “You need ambition to become original, tell stories through art, and eventually find fame,” he signs off.
Now what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and showcase the breadth of your creative side?
(All photographs taken by Madanmohan Rao on location in Zanzibar.)
Edited by Megha Reddy