S’angelo Donga set to launch Zimbabwe’s first online gallery; project inspired by struggles getting space and value at traditional platforms

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By Thobekile Khumalo

Zimbabwe is set to witness its first ever online art gallery to be launched by graphic designer S’angelo Donga.

Donga is the founder of Urban Moon Media and specialises in graphics designing and brand consultancy.

He said he is compelled to launch an online art gallery in order to afford every artist an exhibition opportunity.

“What compelled me to come up with the idea of curating an online gallery is because I’ve  been trying for two years to get space for exhibition at our own National Art Gallery but I’ve failed,” he said.

“This is not because the art gallery is full but, as artists, we are not getting full value of our designs and that probed me to say if a well known designer cannot be afforded space at gallery, how about the talented school kids in the townships and people willing to tab into the industry.”

His desire to overcome the challenge pushed him to go for the unusual with the gallery expected to go online early next year.

Donga wants a friendly space online where artists can come together to communicate, share ideas and do exhibitions, in the process affording themselves a chance to market their work to the outside world.

“I’ve always been an achiever and I’ve always wanted to be better than I was yesterday; so, when I wake up in the morning I tell myself I want to be the best in what I do,” he said.

“Ever since I started doing graphic designing nine years ago I’ve been patient and consistent so my drive  has always been consistency and quality to the table and you’ll definitely rise to the occasion.”

He added: “I am inspired by other designers that I see online and I am always communicating with designers from all over the world.

“It’s funny because designers from all over the world recognise me but in Zimbabwe there are a few people if you say my name out that know me meaning we are not appreciated enough and looked down upon in our country.

“So, those people inspire me and push me to improve the graphic design and arts landscape in my country.”

Donga said he is inspired by what the late arts legend ‘Cont’ Mhlanga contributed to the arts industry.

“I started going to the late ‘Cont’ Mhlanga’s Amakhosi theatre when I was nine and I learnt fine arts, drawing and painting. I also learnt music there; I played marimba and I was actually the lead marimba musician in his theatre. The background I have from that place is what I still use today and what I was taught there still applies to my daily work now.

“I’m appealing to the Ministry of youths, arts, sports and culture to have such institutions where children can go and learn then choose career paths based on what they enjoy doing.

“I am also appealing for assistance from the ministry so that I can execute the brilliant ideas that I have to improve the arts and culture space in Zimbabwe so that artists can make a living out of their art because you will realise that not so many artists are rich but if their art is marketed and sold the right way they could earn a living from it or even become millionaires.”

Donga went on to say he wants the platform to a source of inspiration for those aspiring to do art.

“This project will cover Zimbabwe as a whole, showcasing artists from all over the country. I’m going to search out artists and have a database of all the artists in the country and what they do. The platform is where they will be able to interact and collaborate with artists from other countries.

“People should expect fireworks from this project because it’s going to be a platform that one should visit when looking for inspiration  and know what artists in the country are capable of doing.”

He continued; “I have seen platforms like design indaba in South Africa where when you want to know what’s happening in South African arts industry you go to that website to know what art events are taking place in the next few months.

“So I want my website to also be that so that one can know which exhibitions are taking place, be it musical shows because art is wide and this is not just a fine arts gallery.”