Visual artist, Zim Da Vinci’s portraits to die for!!. . . get to know the man whose drawings have gone international

02 Jul, 2022 - 00:07 0 Views
Visual artist, Zim Da Vinci’s portraits to die for!!. . . get to know the man whose drawings have gone international Keith Ndlovu

The Chronicle

Angela Sibanda, Showbiz Reporter

MEDICINE and art are two parallel lines, well . . . to most of us, but Keith Ndlovu, a medical practitioner has found comfort in art, drawing the attention of international public figures through his portraits which he self-taught while in college.

Ndlovu has challenged social conventions, merging two different trades. It is a rarity to find one using forceps, retractors and stethoscopes while also equally excelling with a charcoal pencil, churning out exceptional human figures on portraits. 

Growing up in the dusty and hot streets of Hwange, Ndlovu focused on becoming a medical doctor and after graduating at the University of Zimbabwe with a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree, he joined Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare where he is practising.

His journey in the arts industry began to shape up during his third year in medical school in 2017. It all started as a hobby which later began to pay off as friends and family started requesting portraits of themselves for a charge of US$10.

He attended Coalfields Primary School in Hwange and later on did his high school at Falcon College in Esigodini where he attained 20 Advanced level points in four science subjects leading to him being awarded a Joshua Nkomo Scholarship by Higherlife Foundation for his tertiary studies. In 2019, Ndlovu served as the president of the Zimbabwean Medical Students Association. He also registered Arts in Medicine Zimbabwe (AiMZ), a non-profit making entity that aims to foster creative engagement for patients through different forms of art in a bid to help reduce stress, anxiety and the perception of physical or emotional pain among patients. AiMZ is set to be launched this year.

In an interview with Saturday Leisure, Ndlovu who uses the name, The Zimbabwean Davinci on social media said art is his form of therapy and his portraits focus mainly on remaking pictures exactly as they appear.

“I love making art. I get so immersed in it and nothing else matters while I draw. It’s a kind of therapy. I’m a little obsessed with making photorealistic art, making sure I draw in every detail as accurately as possible, and capturing the soul in pencil and paper is what I do. 

“I decided to specialise in photorealistic monochrome artwork in charcoal because that’s what I love the most, so I chose to focus on that. I find that there’s better fine control with a pencil than other media,” he said. 

The Zimbabwean Davinci said making a portrait can take anything between 15 to 100 hours. 

“It all depends on what I’m drawing and how big the artwork is. It sounds like a lot of hours, but I never feel it because it’s something that I enjoy doing,” he said.


He said he imports the material that he uses for the portraits to make sure that they are of high-quality standards and has done portraits for public figures, both in Zimbabwe and internationally.

“I use charcoal pencils and Fabriano paper. I import all my art materials from abroad. High quality materials make for high quality work. My prices are determined by the size and detail of the work. The prices range from US$100 upwards.

“I’m lucky to have done work for some of the most prominent people in Zimbabwe and abroad including the First Family, Blanket Mine, Rank Zimbabwe, Kuda Tagwirei, Vusi Thembekwayo, Lewis Hamilton and many other clients from the USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa,” said Ndlovu.

Ndlovu is the only artist in his family who has, since converted his siblings and cousin into art lovers.

He, however, admitted that chasing two dreams at the same time is not easy, but it all takes passion.

“It’s quite a challenge to have time to myself to rest and recharge, so I work on my artwork orders and personal work whenever I’m not in the hospital. If you love something you have to find a way of making time for it,” he said.

The artist rues the advent of Covid-19 since it robbed him of a chance to meet the President.

He said he has been fortunate enough though, to meet other members of the First Family.

“It’s a pity that I haven’t met the President. The opportunities to meet him came during the height of Covid-19 and there was a lot of caution around that considering that I’m a healthcare worker. I’ve met other members of the First Family though, whom I’ve done portraits for privately on different occasions.”

The artist said his antidote to success has been persevering and never giving up, a tip he shared with up-and-coming artists.

“I urge up-and-coming artists to never give up and to do what you love. Always have a backup plan, go to school, get that degree so that you can have multiple sources of income because seasons change.

“Besides the risk, I believe you can charge more for your work if you have something else to your name besides just the art. You’re less likely to accept clients that will arm twist you into doing work for very little money,” added Ndlovu.

As an artist, Ndlovu is not spared from the economic challenges that affect local artists in an industry that is usually looked down upon and he feels there is more that the Government and private players can do to promote local art.

“There’s a lot of talent and potential in the art industry in Zimbabwe. I think a lot of artists need support from the Ministry of Arts and Youth and I would like to encourage the ministry to incorporate artists and youth in their structures in order to tap into that potential.

“The private sector has a part to play as well. I encourage companies to buy local art for their offices and corridors. It would be amazing to have a place like the New Parliament Building and the National Art Gallery filled with local artworks by the best artists in Zimbabwe.

“Banks and investment firms can make good returns from funding artists to set up studios and galleries through grants and loans. Not only does this empower artists and improve their standard of living, but it also adds to the economy. Just next door in South Africa and other countries, artwork can be sold for thousands and millions of dollars. But we can only get there through supporting our local artists,” said Ndlovu.

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