Nafasi Art Space is proud to welcome one of the most exciting young artists in Tanzania for a month long residency this September. Adullah Omar, aka, Dullah Wise was born and raised in Zanzibar but has spent the last few months travelling between his home and Dar for work. We sat down with him for a few minutes to get his take on life, art and what plans he has for his time at Nafasi.
Q. Your art name is Dullah Wise. Is the name yours or did you choose it?
A. (laughs) The first part is my name. My full name is Abdullah Khamis Omar. Dullah is short for Abdullah. Wise is just a nickname that I have had ever since secondary school. Everyone used to call me that so one day i decided to keep it.
Q. Is this your first time at Nafasi?
A. No I have been here 3-4 times. I know many of the artists here. So I try to visit whenever I am Dar. I am based in Zanzibar but I usually spend a lot of time travelling between there and here. Arusha as well.
Q. How would you compare the art scenes of Dar and Zanzibar?
A. I would say that art in Dar-es-Salaam is more modern in how it’s approached and presented. In Zanzibar art is more a part of the streets and there people can discover and learn about art just from the streets. In Dar there is more presentation involved.
Q. How would you describe your painting style?
Most of my work is impressionist. I am definitely more comfortable in that category.
Q. Can you say why?
A. It’s a personal preference. I think impressionism is the best way to relate how I think.
Q. Who would you say are some the people who you look up to or who influence your work?
A. (laughs) There are just so many! In terms of the old masters I would say Mac Sawaya and Raza Mohamed, Haji Chilonga. But I also learn a lot from people working today. There are some artists right here at Nafasi like Masoud Kibwana and Vita Malulu whose work really inspires me.
Q. So do you have any idea about what you might do during the residency? What you might want to explore as an artist?
I love music. And being in an interdisciplinary place like this where music is playing all of the time inspires me to try and include it somehow in my work. Don’t ask me how just yet! But it’s definitely something I’m thinking about.
Q. And what would you say to a young person right now who wanted to grow up to become an artist? What advice would you give?
I would say that it isn’t easy. It took me 3 or so applications to even get to where i am now. I’ve been turned down everywhere. So if your serious, if you know your art is coming from inside then you have to keep going. You always have to be open. Always ask questions. But really, it isn’t easy.
Dullah will be in the Nafasi Hall on the 13th September from 4pm for an Artist Hangout where he will presenting his work and telling us all about his artistic approach. Don’t miss it.