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How artistic innovations are transforming South Africa

In South Africa, N’lamwai Luntha Chitambo navigates the realms of art, culture, and Instagram.
How artistic innovations are transforming South Africa www.whoownsafrica.com How artistic innovations are transforming South Africa www.whoownsafrica.com
N’lamwai Luntha Chitambo. photo instagram

Nestled in the concrete jungle of Johannesburg, South Africa, N’lamwai Luntha Chitambo navigates the realms of art, culture, and Instagram. His story sheds light on the transformative power of social media for artists, tackling topics like competition, confidence, and what it takes to succeed.

Chitambo is the proud owner of a studio called ‘Mundayne Art Studios,’ located in the Ellis House Art Building. When asked why he chose Johannesburg as his base, he emphasizes the city’s abundance of opportunities.

For many in South Africa, this gigantic city offers promises of realised dreams and financial independence. It’s the country’s Big Apple—money is fast, and the cultural melting pot is alluring. According to N’lamwai, it’s also a hot spot for artistic expression.

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How artistic innovations are transforming South Africa www.whoownsafrica.com
N’lamwai Luntha Chitambo. photo instagram

Reports from the New York Times indicate a doubling in the number of artists and creators in Johannesburg in recent years. Chitambo attests to the city’s ceaseless energy, stating, “This town doesn’t sleep. There’s actually a lot of opportunities that come up every month.”

Armed with a Master’s in Fine Arts and a keen eye for to detail, N’lamwai embarked on his artistic journey, only to find that opportunities weren’t readily available. A journal from 2016 highlighted the relatively small scale of South Africa’s art market compared to the global stage.

Fast forward to 2023, and reports on art investment still paint a grim picture of market decline. N’lamwai faced dwindling prospects of success. Convincing people to invest in his art became increasingly challenging, with social media emerging as a formidable obstacle.

When N’lamwai opened his studio, he didn’t think much of the digital realm, and in fact, was skeptical. One year later, the perspective has changed. With the encouragement of peers, the artist recognized the potential of social media as a creative tool and a boon for small businesses.

As highlighted by Business.com, any business needs to use social media. Social media marketing has perks like brand awareness and advertising, and platforms like Instagram and Facebook have detailed analytical software that shows a business exactly who its customers are.

How artistic innovations are transforming South Africa www.whoownsafrica.com
N’lamwai Luntha Chitambo. photo instagram

This data is helpful for artists especially, because it points out the audience’s geographical location, age range, and even gender. The small business artist could then curate their social media content based on this information and even host marketing campaigns with specific intentions, for example, promoting content that will attract more South African followers.

Yet, the sheer volume of content on social media poses a daunting challenge for artists vying for visibility. Search the tag ‘artist,’ and millions of posts come up. Even with the increasing amount of social media users, many people are uncomfortable parading in front of cameras just to make ends meet. Chitambo reflects on the discomfort of self-promotions, describing his social media efforts as “cringe.”

While some artists prefer to let their work speak for itself, today’s landscape demands a multifaceted approach. The creative must create their opportunities. An artist embraces roles the roles of entrepreneur, marketing specialist, and their own PR team, not to mention the new aspect of creative skill required for videos and content creation.

On his personal page, @luntha_art, N’lamwai offers glimpses into his artistic process. One of his strategies was an introductory video about his work as an artist and why he started the studio.

Using social media to promote and market his business shows an expansive skillset on N’lamwai’s part. Even though these tasks can be tedious, he pushes on. The artist understands that consistency will pay off, but the biggest lesson that N’lamwai has learned from social media is how to be confident in his abilities.

“I have to back myself, and it’s a learning curve.”

As a black artist based in South Africa, Chitambo’s art is automatically assumed to carry sociopolitical weight. However, in his current art journey, this isn’t the case. The Rhodes alumnus created Mundayne Art Studios to produce painted comics, a style unique to Chitambo.

How artistic innovations are transforming South Africa www.whoownsafrica.com
N’lamwai Luntha Chitambo. photo instagram

The idea is to dramatise everyday events. N’lamwai takes his knowledge of Fine Arts, blends it with the pop art style, and creates detailed oil-painted panels that visualise a normally insignificant moment, for example, two words said to a man on the street.

The underlying message in Chitambo’s work strays far from the narrative people generally look for in African art. He doesn’t focus on the painful history of African ancestry or the political and social landscape in which a black man currently exists. With his painted comics, N’lamwai simply hopes to enjoy a moment and have his audience do so.

N’lamwai’s work comes from a unique perspective, and because of this, he has to convince us, his audience, why the art is worth our time. Navigating social media has been integral to Chitambo’s journey, fostering confidence in his work and allowing him to connect with a global audience on his own terms.

In essence, platforms like Instagram and TikTok serve as digital exhibition spaces, offering artists unprecedented control over their narratives while presenting unique challenges and opportunities for growth.
As social media continues to reshape the art world, it’s intriguing to observe how young African artists like Chitambo adapt to this evolving landscape, carving out their niches amidst the digital cacophony.

Go to Who Owns Africa for more news from the African continent.

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2 comments
  1. That was well written and so interesting to read.
    I actually think a lot of student artists would benefit from reading this. I’ve sent it to a friend of mine who studies Fine Art.
    The article really places me in a position to perceive and almost understand what it’s like being an artist in the real world today – it takes more than the art, it seems.
    I agree totally that consistency will assuredly pay off and I think that’s a hope to hold on to.
    And so, I can’t wait to reflect on this again when all N’lamwai’s consistency pays off in the near future !✨🙏🏾

  2. That was well written and so interesting to read.
    I actually think a lot of student artists would benefit from reading this. I’ve sent it to a friend of mine who studies Fine Art.
    The article really places me in a position to perceive and almost understand what it’s like being an artist in the real world today – it takes more than the art, it seems.
    I agree totally that consistency will assuredly pay off and I think that’s a hope to hold on to.
    And so, I can’t wait to reflect on this again when all N’lamwai’s consistency pays off in the near future!✨🙏🏾

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