Artist chronicles coronavirus lockdown in daily charcoal drawings

Arts activist Gamakhulu Diniso with the collection of his artwork on the coronavirus lockdown. /ANTONIO MUCHAVE
Arts activist Gamakhulu Diniso with the collection of his artwork on the coronavirus lockdown. /ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Veteran arts activist and theatre maker Gamakhulu Diniso is using the Covid-19 lockdown as an inspiration to create art pieces daily to artistically capture the moment.

The art marathon, as he defines it, began on the first day of the 21-day lockdown on March 26 and the last piece of the first series of the marathon will be produced today at his house in Bedworth Park in Sharpeville, on the Vaal.

Using charcoal on paper, it takes the artist less than 10 minutes to create each piece. He explained that once the formulation of the artwork has happened in his head, it was easy to put it on paper.

The series captures the stress that the coronavirus lockdown brought to the community, the misunderstanding and people's perception around it. Diniso, whose two children are also artists, plans to start a new series tomorrow to reflect the extension of the lockdown.

"I have painted a series, starting with the stress that lockdown brought to us. Some people did not trust the masks because they believed that they will infect them. Later, people started to understand this virus and how the lockdown works. But in this series, I'm able to show that old people believe that the coronavirus needs a serious prayer to end," Diniso said.

"As an artist, it is my duty to educate and encourage people during this lockdown. We need to encourage people to stay positive. Most important, I wanted to capture this moment for younger generations."

Diniso, who turned his house into a theatre, and gallery/museum, as well as running a mini-coffee shop, has been hit hard by the lockdown like all small businesses.

He normally hosts poetry sessions on Fridays and book-club readings on Saturdays where people come over to support him by buying coffee, water and cold drinks.

However, since the lockdown started he has not been able to make money to complement his artistic career.

"It has been hard because the people who support us when the place is open are not coming at the moment. We have jazz sessions on Sundays and also work closely with students from Vaal University of Technology," Diniso said.

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