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Self-taught artist draws portraits for people at Khayelitsha Mall

Norman Mackolisky says he survives through his art

Photo of a young man sittng on a bed holding up a drawing
Norman Mackolisky with a drawing he did of Nelson Mandela. Photo: Mnikelo Damba
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Self-taught artist Norman Mackolisky, 23, from Khayelitsha Harare 38 section, uses his art to overcome the many challenges he has faced. His imaginative works reflect sadness‚ grief‚ pain‚ happiness‚ love and sometimes even hatred.

Art has helped him get through many difficult times such as a robbery and a breakup with his girlfriend. Drawing helps him forget the pain. And when he is happy, he uses his art to celebrate his feelings.

GroundUp met Mackolisky in the rented home in Harare where he lives with his extended family. He works in the lounge as he does not have a studio. He uses pencil‚ pen‚ charcoal and powdered tempera watercolours.

“Unfortunately my mother could not afford to send me to an art school,” he says. “But she was always encouraging me to follow art from the beginning, after she saw a birthday card I made for her.”

He taught himself by watching YouTube and he had some tutorials with an established artist.

A painting he did after he was dumped by a girl he loved back home in Zimbabwe, shows a forlorn, ghostly figure.

“I really loved her, and if it was not for my talent, maybe I was going to use bad stuff like alcohol. But my art really helped me get over her,” he says.

Another picture is of a woman – half flesh, half skeleton. Mackolisky explains: “I was at the shop [in Khayelitsha] about to buy airtime, when three guys came in. I thought they were there to buy something, until one of them pointed a gun at me. They took my money and cellphone.

“I was very angry after that incident. I felt helpless; I could not defend myself. When I got home, I just took my pens and paper and started drawing. I came up with this picture.”

Mackolisky spends hours in Khayelitsha Mall drawing people. He sells A4-size pictures for as little as R100. A portrait takes him 20 minutes.

His dream is to be involved in an art school and to teach art for primary level students.

“I believe art can help a lot of children and also decrease the crime rate,” he says.

Photo of a young man holding up a painting
Norman Mackolisky with a painting he did after breaking up with his girlfriend. Photo: Mnikelo Damba

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