Engaging art as a means of self-reflection and a tool for change and inspiration, Zambian artist Daudi Yves, uses charcoal, paint, paper and canvas to address local and global issues from financial corruption to mental health and toxic masculinity. Here Yves generously talks about his creative practice, sharing his development and aspirations as an artist.
How did your work as an artist grow from your first days of making art to your current work? Tell us about your influences and motivations.
Well, I can say that it's been quite a shift, from drawing what I thought people wanted to see to mixing media (drawing and painting) together to create and express what I wanted people to see. Being self-motivated and self-influenced is the foundation of the work and discipline I am touching now. I have always wanted my works to bring a social change, and I am now starting by changing and talking about things I have personally been facing–things like failing to express my emotions about someone. It used to happen where a loved one would hurt me emotionally, and I was scared to talk to them about it, or even cry about it if it hurt so much. I used to think that it would mean that I am weak, not knowing that I was nurturing toxic masculinity slowly. TOXIC MASCULINITY IS BAD. BOYS DO CRY.
Describe your current practice and creative process. What are you currently working on?
I have been doing a self reflection and took a journey into finding myself to understand why I do what I do. Does it really bring me the joy and fulfillment I need it to bring? Through this question, I find a lot of flaws in myself that need attention and through this process new concepts and bodies of work emerge.
Tell us about the materials and the topics or issues you are working with or exploring?
I am now combining pencil and paint on canvas to create realistic, strong characters and places in front with a golden background or pattern of darker and lighter tones of one color following another.
The strongest themes I am working on now are the link between mental health and creativity, toxic masculinity and men’s emotions. I am exploring these three because I find it hard, but easy at the same time, to share how I feel along with my opinions on some issues according to my personal experience.
At times I get lost in my thoughts and, all of a sudden, I feel depressed or sad. When I get a lot of mixed emotions in a single period of time, that is where the painting process begins. I have come to see that most of my raw and absolutely amazing pieces come out of these particular moments. It scares me, but also helps me get creative. I guess, to gain something you have to lose something.
How has your work been received by the local community?
My work has been received as new or strange. It might be because many people don’t want to look at some hidden truths or evoke them; but I am so happy that people are able to relate, and we get to have these one-to-one conversations about the relatability of the artwork. I have also sold some of the artworks; so, I am sure that, with time, the response will get better.
What challenges and opportunities are you experiencing as an artist in Zambia?
It’s been a challenge to make a proper, decent living with my art; but things are changing, because there are a lot of different galleries and institutions coming up to help support local artists, so we are moving. Opportunities like group shows and a lot of residency programs are popping up. Residencies are my main interest now, because I want to experience and explore different cultures and lifestyles to inspire me to create.
What are your dreams and hopes for the future?
My dream is not just to make a living for myself as an individual. I see a lot of young talented artists give up, because there are fewer examples of artists who are financially stable locally, making it hard for some to pursue. I want to build a legacy based on what kind of a being I was, I am and will be, to hopefully inspire someone out there.
I want to have a neat enough studio space. I hope to do a solo show and meet all of you who do a lot to support our dreams and thank you personally.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
I was born in 2000 in the D.R Congo and am now living in Zambia. I create innovative conceptual drawings and paintings on paper and canvas and engage in multidisciplinary modes of art for a change. Bad economy, peace, black power, culture, toxic masculinity, men’s emotions and corrupt activities are a few of the themes in my current research and artistic practice.
Daudi Yves Blog: https://medium.com/@