Thursday, April 27, 2017


Backyard Saloon
Acrylic on Canvas

Comparing Notes
Acrylic on Paper

Acrylic & Collage on Paper

Acrylic & Ink on Canvass
Lady in Red
Acrylic on Paper

Water Colour on Paper

Acrylic & Ink on Canvass

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Graphics Portfolio

Billboard Design (24x6m)

Book Cover Design (15x21cm)

Tshirt & Poster Design (42x60)

CD & DVD cover (Design 29x13cm)

Logo Design (Assorted dimensions)

Banner Design (6x2m)

Sports Kit Design (35x50cm)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Abstract - Mixed media (75x50cm)

 African beauty - Acrylic (105x80cm)

Barber - Acrylic (92x70cm)

Clay pots - Acrylic (85x60cm)

Clique - Mixed media (77x62cm)

Communal tap - Acrylic (98x75cm)

Introspection - Acrylic (70x70cm)

Mud huts - Water colour (53x42cm)

Multi-tasking - Acrylic (40x60cm)

Over the hills - Acrylic (32x80cm)

Reaching out - Mixed media (40x70cm)

Self admiration - Acrylic (85x60cm)

Village scene - Water colour (25x17cm)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Air Botswana in flight Magazine Cover

Air Botswana in flight magazine feature

Embracing Life
By Berry Shaba
A noteworthy tapestry of artistic statement and social commentary comprised Crawford Mandumbwa's latest exhibition of water colours and acrylics recently held at Gaborone's Frame Gallery.

Entitled "Embracing Life", the exhibition stressed the importance of accepting life as it is, and enjoying it, according to the 43 year-old artist. Crawford explores his experiences, fears, observations and perceptions of life through his highly moving paintings.

The exhibition presented a thought provoking collection that compelled visitor, regardless of age and status, to take stock of their time and space in life. Crawford points out that the exhibition is informed by a strong desire to understand oneself and to address the central, interrogative question to existence -  Who am I?
Reflecting his passion for understanding human beings, Crawford mostly paints people and this has been consistent over the years. Dr. Phillip Bulawa, lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Botswana, comment in the exhibition catalogue:  “Over the 16 years that I have known Mandumbwa, his work has matured and evolved immensely, but the themes underpinning his work remain the same. With his brush strokes he makes social commentary on the lives of the people.”
One such painting which captures the struggles of mankind and, is perhaps central to the exhibition - Embracing Life, is the watercolour “Multi-tasking”. In this painting Crawford stamps his authority as a proficient watercolourist who has mastered the art of perfectly matching the subject with the right medium and composition. The result is a moving classic narrative of a hard knock existence. The painting “Multi-tasking” depicts a woman playing the balancing act of carrying out the day-to-day chores in a manner that shockingly brings to the fore the struggles that most women face on a daily basis but the rest of the world wittingly or unwittingly ignores. A cursory glance at the painting will reveal the breathtaking grace with which the woman manages to carry five different loads – a child on her back, a basket in her right hand, a huge hessian sack in her left hand at the same time balance a big bowl on her head while she trudges to an unknown destination along a path that stretches into the distant horizon. One is moved by the way her body and limbs are grotesquely pulled in almost all directions in an effort to balance her load. Her plight is quite touching – it makes the observer almost want to reach out and offer her a helping hand. “Multi-tasking” is no doubt a tear-jerker even though it is rendered in aesthetically delicate brush strokes. Despite its decorative “beauty”, the painting is an outraged cry against an unconcerned and uncaring world to do some serious soul searching. It is a scream for help.
“Botswana Has Got Talent” also known as “Lady in Red” is a vibrant and vivacious painting – depicting a lively dance scene and executed mostly in vibrant red and blue colours. The heavy impasto and the bold brush strokes draw the observer into the action and invite them to join the jiving and the merry-making. The painting captures a simple scene which could be a party or bar where the ‘everyday people’ are likely to let their hair down and forget about their worries and struggles. Crawford says “Lady in Red” is one of those paintings whose title, which is synonymous with ‘middle class’ settings, has been transposed into an ordinary person’s context in an effort to emphasise the uniformity of humanity.
Inspired by Chris de Burgh’s song, Crawford says this painting’s title, which is synonymous with ‘middle class’ settings, has been transposed into an ordinary person’s context in an effort to emphasise the uniformity of humanity.
Another of Crawford’s paintings which portray him as the people’s painter is “Under My Umbrella”. It depicts watermelon sellers taking a break from their work. Their postures tell tales of perhaps how energy-sapping their work is. They devour the watermelons with an animal intensity which symbolises acute perceptions of life and the connection that exists between people and the soil from where their nourishment comes and where they will one day return. Technically “Under My Umbrella” shows Crawford’s sound command of the principles of picture-making. A closer look will reveal that Crawford’s preliminary action was limited to a few cursory pencil lines especially around the umbrella. These bare minimum pencil strokes indicate an arrangement which left the forms to be filled in by the brush strokes in broad washes and deft strokes – this he did in red, yellow and blue and at the same time beautifully capturing the sun right at the top of the umbrella. The effect is one of brightness, freshness and spontaneity. It is very clear that Crawford knew exactly what he wanted to do because his washes begin and end just at the right areas. The gradation of colour, pigment and tone as well as patches of untouched areas of white paper as the picture moves from the foreground to the background is evidence of a master colourist.
In “Under My Umbrella”, Crawford’s concern for people is poignant. He manages to capture the essence of survival and honest labour so well that one can almost feel the urgency of their hunger and thirst. Crawford shows the observer that in spite of the watermelon sellers’ sun-induced fatigue, which has made their limbs droop as if in surrender, they still desire to live on and ‘see tomorrow.’ Crawford’s ability to translate his passion for people into visual terms assist his audience better understand his intentions. According to him, “Be it in Acrylic or Watercolour, my utmost desire is that of portraying our people’s undying will to survive. How they strive, jostle and improvise to get by from day-to-day never ceases to amaze me.”
In almost all the paintings in this show Mandumbwa’s knack in getting up close and personal with his subjects in a non-intrusive manner. His ability to get into his subjects’ tiny spaces, tread their dust, touch their pain and trace their hopes is a marvel.
Most of the paintings Crawford exhibited have woman subjects. He admits that he likes to paint women but not women as temptresses or any other such unsavoury images rather he takes great delight in celebrating womanhood as in his painting – “Mmaabo” now purchased by Mr Jacob Nkate. This piece is done in Acrylic on paper. According to Crawford it symbolises his centre piece and is a personal salutation to motherhood. It is done in bold glazes and brush strokes. Her exuberance, bright smile and glowing skin are the artist’s touch of adoration and reverence.
The collection of paintings in Embracing Life all flow from Crawford Mandumbwa’s unwavering belief in people and their ability to adapt no matter where they might be physically, spiritually and mentally. As he has accepted his own shortcomings, struggles and triumphs, he hopes that through his art the world will also embrace life.
Some of the paintings in Embracing Life exhibition include; Paw Paw Harvest (a personal chronicle of some of the hard times he experienced as a youngster), Village Sunset, Old Madala, Backyard Salon, Lost in the News, African Mask, Breastfeeding, From the Communal Tap, After a Hard Day’s Work, Reaching Out, Barber Shop, African Beauty and others.
Crawford Mandumbwa was born in 1969 in the North Western Province of Zambia in Chavuma whose people, the Luvale, are also found in Angola. He spent most of his childhood in Kitwe where he did his basic education. Crawford first discovered his gift in Standard 4 when he came across an illustration of an old farm fence and it was etched in his memory. He later reproduced the image and it won him accolades among his peers – that the beginning of his journey into the world of creativity.
Young Crawford was to formally encounter Art at junior secondary school where he developed his craft. When later his paper mache sculpture was spiteful trampled on by his jealous classmates, he realised the extent of his gift and never looked back. However, the high school he went to in Petauke, in eastern Zambia had no Art classes so he chose to study Technical Drawing and briefly entertained thoughts of pursuing Architecture but resorted back to Art when an Art teacher was later deployed to his school.
After high school in 1989 Crawford went to Lusaka to take up a job as a Graphic Designer though he was not formally trained. Later after a chance meeting with a chief designer of the Zambia Information Services in a bus, he was offered a job in the department where he designed government information posters. He, however, did not stay long in the civil service. His desire to be involved with more challenging creative work saw him walk into an advertising agency (Fleet Foot Advertising agency) who hired on the spot as a trainee graphic designer.
In 1991he enrolled with Evelyn Hone College to train for a Diploma in Art Teaching. He initially wanted to major in sculpture but on account of a shortage of equipment at the college, he opted to study pictorial and figure studies. He concurrently pursed a Diploma in Graphic Design. That is besides having to moonlight to pay his way through college till he completed his studies in 1994.
Before he could take up teaching, a newspaper (The Post) impressed by his portfolio hired him to design print adverts and develop graphics for the paper. So remarkable was his work during a workshop in Johannesburg, South Africa, that he attracted the attention a delegate from The Voice newspaper from Botswana who made him an offer which he took up in June of 1995. After a two-year stint at the paper’s graphics and photography sections, he joined the Teaching Service Management (TSM) as an Art teacher. He served in the Botswana civil service for five years until 2002 when he went to John Mackenzie School (Francistown) as an Art teacher.  In 2006 he commenced a Bachelor of Arts program specialising in Visual Multi-Media with the University of South Africa (UNISA). He is still teaches at John Mackenzie School to date.
Crawford Mandumbwa has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions. His work has been collected in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Europe and the United States. In the public domain, Crawford designed an official logo for the Supa Ngwao Museum’s Francistown Centenary Celebrations in 1998. He was also sponsored by the Women’ Institute to animate the wall spaces of the Paediatrics Wards at Nyangabwe Hospital in Francistown. Crawford is also the designer of the Voice newspaper’s current “Born in Ghetto” billboards in Francistown and Gaborone.
Mandumbwa says he is happy with his life and art. “If I can tell a story with the least of brush strokes, I am content.” His exuberant adoration for life and the ability to translate it into the visual form has set him apart as a painter, illustrator, graphic designer, sculptor, narrator and social commentator.

Thursday, January 17, 2008