P ainting from the heart

2017-04-25 07:40
Thami Jali with one of his works. PHOTO: Nosipho Mkhize

Thami Jali with one of his works. PHOTO: Nosipho Mkhize

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HIS childhood memories are filled with colourful drawings and sculptures.
Clermont resident Thami Jali said when he was young he never liked toys, however he was the type of child who loved to create his own toys like wired cars.
“At the time I didn’t know that art was in my blood, I didn’t even realise art was a career - I thought it was a talent.
“I remember that I failed Standard 5 [Grade 7]because I focused more on drawing, this happened after my friend took me to his father’s house, who was a draftsman, and his father’s work encouraged me a lot.
“I lost focus and began to go into the suburbs to draw big houses and beautiful gardens because I felt the suburbs were so different to the township life back then, however, I had to leave my artistic dream behind and focus on school.”

During apartheid in 1976 Jali was accepted at the University of Zululand to study law.
“The university had an anthropology department which had a collection of art and seeing that brought back that long lost dream of being an artist.
“Unfortunately, the university didn’t offer an art degree so I was stuck with studying law, but I still went to the library and read art books and philosophies which took a lot of my time while it affected my studies.”

“When apartheid was rife I had to take a break from my studies. Then in 1980, I went back to university to finish my studies, but to my advantage I met with a group of students from Rocks Rift Art School in Dundee.
“The students saw my work and were interested so they told me to apply at the school and, that’s when I diverted from law to art.
“I did a two-year arts certificate, which covered almost everything pertaining to art.
“I was lucky because I was one of the last students to attend that school because it was closed in 1982.”

In 1983 and 1984 he was exhibiting as a professional artist.
“In 1982 I won an award for best sculpture and since then, I have never looked back and I have been exhibiting for 30 years. “
At the moment I am working on a series called “Torched”, paintings that talk about the people living in squatter camps and the fires that usually occur. I will be exhibiting them in June in Germany.”

Children in the area always ask for training at his studio called the Art House.
“I used to have structured art classes, however, due to certain problems I shut it down in 2014.
“I advise parents to let their children take up art if they are interested in it and those who are interested in art must first get an education, work hard and must not forget to love art with all their heart.”

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