The mind behind the Giga Psyche art

Visual artist Emmanuel Chibaye has displayed compelling ingenuity since he emerged on the Zambian art scene with his one-of-a-kind drawing pedigree. His style of art is truly intriguing and unlike any other Zambian artist. The artist has fashioned a drawing genre he calls Giga Psyche art, which is modelled and developed through progressive aesthetic skill.

“I initially started my art practice by reproducing realistic paintings of European artists, mostly copying the artworks of Italian masters” Emmanuel says.

Emmanuel Chibaye (right) with one of his former art teachers, Godfrey Mwikisa

Giga Psyche is driven by a mixture of beliefs, poets and myths that provoke people’s psyches. I employ my art to provide a dialogue on society, culture, nature, technology and ideologies, making it a functional tool in society

“Although the reproduced paintings were closely done, I received fierce criticism from my followers for replicating other artists’ work,” he recalls.

“After introspection I began to experiment with shape, texture and space in order to find my own artistic footing. The experimentation eventually resonated with my creative ability and formed the foundation for my own style, and that is how the Giga Psyche came about. The term simply means great mind or giant mind,” Emmanuel recounts.

“The creative process of my art is largely inspired by shapes found in nature and objects from everyday life. I endeavour to search and see geometrical shapes in most things which may appear to be organic to an ordinary eye.”

Emmanuel says he gets inspiration from elements such as flowers and fruits such as oranges and tomatoes. But how does he find inspiration from fruit, of all things? A cross-section of these fruits reveal geometrical patterns, which the inventive artist employs in his exploits. He draws mostly everyday figures but in such an enthralling way.

Emmanuel’s art leaves no room for error with its intricate figures drawn in ink. Making use of geometric shapes, the Giga Psyche style exhibits a cocktail of cubism and graphic art, with a pinch of lithography.

There is more to Emmanuel’s drawings than what really meets the eye, besides the captivating aura, it is created from a far-reaching artist’s philosophy. 

“Giga Psyche is driven by a mixture of beliefs, poets and myths that provoke people’s psyches. I employ my art to provide a dialogue on society, culture, nature, technology and ideologies, making it a functional tool in society,” he says.

Emmanuel shares that he is influenced by revered Spanish painter Pablo Picasso; it is therefore not surprising that his art exhibits elements of cubism.

Other artists that have influenced Emmanuel include Spanish Surrealist painter Salvador Dali and Dutch graphic artist Maurits Cornelis Escher, famous for creating mathematically inspired lithographs and mezzotints. You can now begin to understand how wide and far the inventive Giga Psyche has gone to immerse himself in creative inspiration. However, Emmanuel is not only inspired by distant artists. He draws inspiration from local artists such as sculptor Nsofwa Bowa, who he grew up admiring. He also looks up to his former Evelyn Hone College art history teacher, Andrew Katembula, for continued perfection of his trade. 

Giga Psyche art is steadily becoming a permanent feature in top local galleries and increasingly so on collectors’ lists. Emmanuel’s captivating talent is now attracting attention beyond Zambian borders. Sun Rainbow Art, a Chinese charity recently invited him to participate in the International Public Welfare Art Exhibition, a project aimed at using art in children’s growth processes and creative thinking.

 On the local front Emmanuel recently participated in the European Union (EU) drawing competition and will be part of an EU-sponsored drawing exhibition, aimed at giving the competition participants greater visibility.

The Visual Arts Council (VAC) of Zambia this year awarded Emmanuel’s creative pedigree with its most prized award after he was named the most outstanding artist of 2020, winning a prize of K18,000.

Through VAC, Emmanuel participated in the Art Academy without Walls (AAWW) programme and worked alongside some of the country’s most prolific young artists such as Caleb Chisha, Joseph Shakulipa, David Makala, and Mapopa Manda among others.

The Ndola-based artist was a runner-up in the inaugural Cynthia Zukas Young Artists Award, launched in Lusaka last year for artists aged between 17 and 30. Emmanuel has also featured as a finalist in the 2009 Mukuba Award, the creative awards particularly for Copperbelt-based artists.

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