Friday, April 2, 2010

(Social) Realism: Zambia

Stary Mwaba

Stary’s career as an artist started almost by accident. After completing high school in 1995, he could not start college because his results got lost. He had to get a job quickly in order to support his siblings and his sick mother after his father died in 1994. Later in the year, he got a job as a peer counselor at the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ). Even when his results came out a year later they were not complete since he only got marks for five subjects instead of seven.

That did not deter him from pursuing his career. Before his father died, Stary had drawn a portrait of his father that his mother used to carry around in her purse. She showed the drawing to Kamwi, a restaurant owner. Kamwi liked it and decided to give Stary his old stock of paints.

Despite being weighed down with family responsibilities, Stary would paint every night under candlelight; since they did not have electricity. ‘I would stay awake to avoid thinking about the troubles I was going through.’ It was probably during these moments that he found solace in expressing his feelings by painting.

Stary Mwaba Mabel

Stary Mwaba Bread Winner

Stary Mwaba Love Letter

Stary Mwaba Womba

Stary Mwaba

World (Social) Realist Art (Index of Countries)
This blog page is part of an ongoing project by artist and part-time lecturer Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin ( to explore Realist / Social Realist art from around the world. The term Realism is used in its broadest sense to include 19th century Realism and Naturalism as well as 20th century Impressionism (which after all was following in the path of Courbet and Millet). Social Realism covers art that seeks to examine the living and working conditions of ordinary people (examples include German Expressionism, American Ashcan School and the Mexican Muralists).

Click here for (Social) Realist Art Definitions, World (Social) Realism and Global Solidarity, Art and Politics, Social Realism in history and Country Index.

Suggestions for appropriate artists from around the world welcome to

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