Pascal Chuma’s ‘Chumaism’ painting style captures the attention of many, thanks to the intricate brushes of colorful paint on his canvases. His painting style is one for the books, as he tells stories affecting society in an engaging and thought-provoking manner.
WoK recently caught up with him and explored the different stories he has told through his art. To be amazed would be an understatement to the feeling we had while conducting this interview. With over a decade’s long experience in painting, Chuma’s journey is one that is inspiring, educative and eye-opening.
Read on to find out how he grew his talent, followed his path, and created a learning platform for upcoming painters.
Kindly introduce yourself and what you do
My name is Pascal Chuma. I am a creative soul from Bobea Art centre. I am also a professional painter. I started painting professionally in 2010.
Is painting something you always knew you would do? Is it a talent or an interest?
Painting entails a few elements including talent, passion and interest. It is a mixture of the three.
Tell us a bit about your childhood
I was born and raised in the rural area in Kisii. After my secondary education I came to the city to study arts then later went to employment. After a while I decided to start an arts centre to empower young people and begin my career as a professional painter full time.
At what point did you decide to leave employment?
When I was in employment, I was not comfortable with what I was doing. My passion was in painting, so I decided to follow my heart and do painting full-time. After I left my job I started doing my paintings at the house and kids and passersby would be interested in my paintings. This interest grew and I figured I needed a bigger space for working. That is when I decided to get a conducive space for art expression to teach young kids so they can grow their interest and find a way to earn a living in the future.
How can you describe your style of painting?
I invented my style in 2010, I call it Chumaism style. It is an individualistic genius style that emphasizes on feelings. A network of colour expression, poetic imagination and texture. So, I use a lot of colours.
When it happens for a specific story, I use different specific colours to express the story.
What inspires this style of painting?
Some come as a dream, experience and the environment I live in. I observe what is happening and use my art to solve problems. My art always tells a story, so my audience will pause for a bit to observe and really think about the painting. When I do a painting, I highlight the problem and try to offer a solution.
How has the reception for your art been in Kenya?
Unfortunately, most Kenyans have art illiteracy. Majority of people do not understand how we do what we do and why we do it. People should understand that art is therapeutic and there is life. We should teach our children to embrace art from a young age, and teach them how to make an impact on society. We should not force the conventional professions on our kids. When you see a talent in a child, invest in that.
You are a very successful artist with an international appeal. Tell us a bit about that.
I tell stories about the African people. It is my objective as an artist to tell these stories. Through my paintings I speak about social injustices and other issues affecting humanity. When I do a painting about that, I attract a lot of attention from across the world. My art has been displayed in art galleries around the world including New York, Berlin and Japan.
Perhaps what most people are wondering, does art really pay?
(Laughs) Yes! Art does pay. In fact, art pays really well. We live in an environment where people hide the amount they make from art. However, people should know that art pays very well, when it gets to the right client. Actually, my first car in life, a BMW X5, was purchased fully by proceeds from my painting work. That’s how much painting can pay. (Laughs)
How much do your paintings cost?
My paintings have different costs. Potential buyers should visit our studio and website to get the exact prices for my paintings.
What is you advice for the younger generation pursuing art as a career?
For the young people out there, art and painting is a very viable way of earning a living. If you have the interest, talent and passion, you are able to make art that will sustain you, your family and make an impact on the society. Always try to make meaningful art that has a message and speaks to the masses. Have a clear understanding of the message you want to send across and always yearn to make a difference with your craft. Do not be discouraged by naysayers. Always strive to make the most of your talent and push yourself to become the best you can be.
Also avoid using middlemen to sell your art. With today’s technology, you can post your work online and will find clients that you can sell directly to. Also display your work in local galleries to gain attention and build on your brad. Eventually, you will succeed.