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Hello Mr Jallow and thank you for giving Taxawal Gambia the opportunity to interview you. Some of us may have heard about you or seen your work but can you please tell our readers who you are and where you’re from?
First and foremost I would like to thank Taxawal Gambia for giving me the opportunity to talk about my artistic life. Taxawal Gambian is doing a phenomenal job in trying to promote Gambian talents around the world and basically giving some form of support and courage as they strive to succeed in their various fields.
-what is your educational background
I did my primary, middle and high school life in one institution- Ndow’s. However, I didn’t complete my high school in the Gambia, due to the fact that I moved to the United States two years ago. Upon arrival I had to redo my 11th and 12th grade at Eleanor Roosevelt high school. Graduated last year and now I am in college. I attend the New Community College under the City University of New York, majoring in business and finance.
-Can you tell us a little about yourself and your talent?
As a young boy growing up, I hardly took time to observe myself which is pretty much normal for a child but I came to realize that I am an artist when people started appreciating my works. Honestly speaking, I owe my immediate community a lot because they made me realize my potentials by being my audience when nobody saw or heard me especially my Facebook fans.
At the age of 13, I started asking my self questions about myself in relation to the outside world, in essence, my surrounding. WHY DO PEOPLE LOVE MY WORK? WHY DO PEOPLE JUST ENJOY ME, WHEN I AM DRAWING OR PAINTING? These were some questions I had in mind but then, the answer was very obvious “I have a talent”. However, I knew I had something in me but I just could not figure it out. I just kept doing it to the best of my ability even though I didn’t know what the outcome will be. Art by then was just a way of life and I had fun doing it. One important breakthrough that made me realize my potentials was (Y.P.M) Young People in the Media. Young People in the Media is an organization that helped young people communicate their ideas through programs- Radio, T.V, News Papers and other team building ideas.
They made my first exhibition possible by creating an event that was going to give me the opportunity to showcase my works. The event took place in Marina International School and 3 works of mine were bought. This meant so much to me, especially at that very young age. At that point I said to myself- “I am an artist”. Lol!!
-How long have you been painting?
I have been painting for the past 4 years. However, I have been drawing for many years. Everybody knew me through my drawings. I decided to go into painting because drawing alone was not helping me convey my ideas and thoughts. I was always limited because most of the time I drew portraits of people. In doing that, you can’t put in your ideas but just draw the person the way they look.
-What inspires your creativity?
My creativity has just been something natural. I conveyed my thoughts and ideas on my canvas. That’s the reason why I do abstract paintings. In an abstract work, you do not have any limitations. You use colors to your satisfaction and you let your work speak for itself. In realism, you do not paint your ideas but basically copying what has already been created. For this reason, I decided that I will create something new; something that no body has done before. So the only way I could achieve that was through abstract paintings. Another interesting thing about me is that I paint abstract but I draw realism. Normally my drawings are all portraits that people commission for themselves.
-Is there a certain type of painting that you only concentrate on eg. Abstract, water colours, oil paintings, expressionism etc
Like I previously said, I am more into abstract, but I also do realism by special commission. My medium is acrylic, I barely use oil. I chose acrylic because it dries faster which enables me to work on other layers of the piece, unlike oil that takes days to dry.
-Most of us are only aware of your paintings. Do you only do paintings?
I draw using charcoal and graphite pencils. I also love carving and sculpture but I am known for my paintings.
- Have you had any formal training with regard to your talent?eg. Classes etc
I have never had any formal training with regards to my talent. I have never been to any art institution for training. I am just natural. However, I pushed myself to meet people who knew more than I did and by doing so I got some skills from them. For me, I had this thirst to learn art but few people were willing to help out.
One thing I have learnt so far is that, you are your number one teacher after your mother. I thought myself all that I wanted to know. In the long run, I would definitely love to do more studies about art and art history but at the same time, I don’t want that to limit me in anyway. I believe talent is natural and all we do is nurture it.
-How easy/difficult has it been for you with regard to getting recognition for your work?
Recognition in the art world is super hard. It takes a lot to be seen and given credit for your works. My philosophy is a little different from other artists. Artist nowadays, focus much more on getting recognition and fame which I think is okay but what about in cases where you do not have the opportunity to be recognized, would you stop doing art? So personally recognition is not too much of a focus for mI believe it is something that you earn. Just work hard and it would come someday.
-What challenges have you faced on your journey?
The business aspect of art is very hard and intense. As a young artist growing up, I still have a lot to learn concerning how I prize my works. Most of this aspect of art comes with time. Time means a lot in art, because it’s a gradual process. I find it very difficult pricing my works. As far as I am concern, my art works are part of me so if you want to buy them or take them from me, you are basically taking a part of me away that is priceless. That’s why I find it hard at times.
When it comes to exhibitions and getting customers, you need a very strong connection. You need to know very important people who are willing to buy your works at any cost. But again, as I mentioned earlier, recognition is not too much of a focus for me. Its about getting the work done believing that it shall pay off someday.
-What has been your best piece so far?
My Best piece so far has been one of my recent piece of work entitled- The Clock. The Clock is one of my largest work of art so far and it reflex upon the city I live in- New York City. If you have been in the city then you will understand what I mean by time. People are so busy and everybody is running and jumping, fighting to get onto buses and trains just because of its large population, all in the name of Time.
It’s always about who has a meeting to catch or who is late for classes. The city is just over populated. Interestingly, time management is one of the most discussed topics but yet still, it’s still a major issue. Time waits for no man and that is what we fail to realize at times.
-Has your work ever been exhibited to the general public?
First, I must thank God for giving me the opportunity to have numerous exhibitions at a very young age. For some reason people just believe in me and always gave me the opportunity to exhibit even amongst prominent artists. I have had 6 exhibitions: 1 in the Gambia and 5 in the U.S. The public has been very supportive and receptive. I am looking forward to more and more exhibitions to come.
-If you were approached by someone looking to become an artist like yourself, how would you describe the industry that you’re in?
Very competitive!! It takes courage and focus to survive. Give art a meaning and try to understand its purpose to you and then just execute it to the fullest. The industry calls for networking. Know the right people to meet and just convey yourself to them through your works. The moment art means more than just a pay check that’s when you will prevail.
-Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
In the next 5-10 years, I see myself working tirelessly to promote art in the Gambia and other developing countries. In the next ten years I want to have an art academy or school, which will help young Gambian artists achieve their goals in the art world. In the next ten years I will want to create a very strict copy right in the Gambia that will protect every single artist no matter their status.
A lot of artists around a being exploited because they are poor and will do anything just to earn a living, so people take advantage of people like that and buy their works at a very low prize and will later sell it at a very high price, which is not fear. Its high time Gambian artists get some respect and dignity. And when I say artists, I am not only talking about painters, it also includes writers and actors and actresses, dancers, musician etc.
-Can you tell us a little about what you do in your free time?
I am just like any other young 20 year old out there. I love to party and have fun. I have been very much involved in sport. I have gained recognition in track and field together with soccer. I love to watch documentaries on team building and social and political instabilities.
- Who has been your biggest supporter ?
My facebook people have been my biggest supporters. I don’t know what I would have done without them. Lately my family has been supportive.
-Any last words to the youths and
aspiring artists ?
My advice to all Gambian youths that want to venture into the art world is very simple: “Try to educate your self to the tooth”. Some young people always have this very bad mentality that art is all about the skills so you don’t need to go to school and widen your knowledge. Art is moving and it’s moving at a very fast pace and Gambian artists should realize this. Personally, what I have learned as an artist is that, if you want to be good at anything just do it and focus on it.
If you want to be a football player just play football, if you want to be a writer, just take your pen and paper and start to write. f you want to be a musician, just sing. So basically the same applies to art. If you want to be a good painter just paint, whether it’s good or bad just paint because it’s only when you paint that you will discover yourself. Believe in yourself because until you do, no body will.
Try not to compare yourself with other artist, because then you will start to loose confidence. However, I do suggest that you seek for people who know more than you. Always be ready to learn new things, don’t discriminate and don’t judge go in for what benefits you and your society. Few recommendations, Isha Fofana, is one of Gambians most successful artist and she is so passionate about teaching art. She would give you every single support you need.
Just remember guys, its all about courage and determination. Believe in it and it shall reward you. It is not going to be easy but just keep pushing and believe in what you are doing.
On that note we would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview with Taxawal Gambia. We wish you the best in all your endeavours
Thanks Taxawal Gambia. I would love to visit you guys someday and probably see how best we can have something similar here in the United States.
After 2 years of hard work, @malichulo’s masterpiece mix tape ‘Blood of A Martyr’ (released on #GambianIndependence day 18/02/13) is finally available for download. To listen to this amazing compilation, visit muzicismyfix.wordpress.com. Twitter: @MalickIV 👌 #StandUpGambia #SupportYourOwn #TaxawalGambia
Please @ us with any pictures you took on the night. Don’t forget your hashtags: #StandUpGambia #TaxawalGambia #GambianIndependence
WHO WAS THE FIRST PERSON IN THE GAMBIA TO PRODUCE SOFT DRINKS?! 😬
(The 1st correct answer wins a free ticket to our Gambian Independence party at Cokobar on Saturday 16th February)
DATE FOR YOUR DIARIES: TAXAWAL GAMBIA and CokoBar present the official 48th Gambian Independence Party on Saturday 16th February 2013 @ CokoBar!
Address: 1 LOVAT LANE, London EC3R 8DT
Dresscode: A Touch of Africa
Limited £10 tickets available. More at the door. #GetYours
NO ID, NO ENTRY.
Birthday table packages available!
I’m sure you all heard about last year’s one, this one is not to be missed!
Gambian model Fatou Fierce on Sweden’s Next Top Model premiering on 21/01/13 on tv3. #StandUpGambia #SupportYourOwn