Okongola by Victor Sitali
Victor Sitali, Dubai-based Zambian artist who gaining steady recognition as one of the UAE’s most skilled painters. Victor Sitali who has been deaf and mute from an early age, has turned his disability into an inspirational success story. ‘Okongola’ opens on 6th February at Create Hub Gallery in Al Quoz.
“The fact I cannot hear has no doubt helped to fine tune my eye for all things visual.” says Victor Sitali of his work. Sitali’s unique vision is fast leading him to becoming one of UAE’s most highly-regarded and innovative painters. Working mainly with oil-on-canvas, Sitali creates highly figurative canvases that expand the traditional parameters of portraiture. Much of his work in the Okongola, which means ‘beautiful’ in his Nyanja Zambian language, uses his African background as its theme and narrative. “I have had a passion for painting portraits. The vibrant colours that African women wear always caught my eye as a child in Zambia, and I felt the desire to capture this using my brush techniques and paint.” explains Victor.
Create Hub is the only gallery in the Middle East that focuses on emerging African artists. Founder and Managing Director, Lidija Khachatourian says “it is a huge privilege to have such a massively talented African painter, and locally-based artist, feature in our gallery. We are additionally proud to be showing an artist who has had to overcome such an huge adversity, however that is only one part of the story, Victor’s brilliance and talent would scream out regardless of knowing his background.”
Victor Sitali, now 26, grew up in Zambia, losing his hearing and speech at the early age of two. Sitali moved to Dubai in 2006, and with the help of Al Fahidi-based art organisation Mawaheb, he developed his painting skills under the supervision of the studio’s founder, Wemmy de Maaker. Through Mawaheb, Sitali was also able to forge a friendship with UK artist Trevor Waugh, who further developed and honed his talent.
Over the years, Victor has gained confidence in his artistic abilities and works as a part time graphics designer, photographer and camera operator while continuing his participation in various sports activities. As Sitali, who only communicates through sign language, says: ‘A voice can be heard not only by sound, but through the work of hands.’