The Swazi folk painter Lucas Mlambo (1959- ) whose work, View of Sidwashini, is held in the Standard Bank Collection, is never at a loss for subject matter. He delights in telling the simple stories of how people live and what they do in town and country.
He does so in bright flat colour, in incorrect perspective and with awkwardly drawn figures in paintings like Washing Day – Manzini and Nhlangano Town, Mshengu Street, but it’s this untrained and unrestrained way of seeing that makes these paintings so thoroughly charming.
In his mid-20s, the location where Mlambo was living was demolished. Its occupants were forced to move to make way for roads. Mlambo was determined to capture his home as it was, so that he could remember it in the future. He enjoyed doing the drawings so much that he wanted to do more. He kept his day job but painted over weekends, selling his paintings to fellow workers for R7 a painting! A year later, he was working towards an exhibition.
This ability to see the everyday with fresh eyes, to recognise the extraordinary in the mundane or prosaic and reveal it to others, it’s this, that makes Mlambo exceptional.