Henry Tayali was a Zambian sculptor and fine artist. He was one of the most prominent Zambian artists to achieve widespread acclaim on the international art scene. Born in a town near the site of the 12,000-year-old Nsalu rock and cave paintings, he grew up in a culturally diverse environment where he was exposed to indigenous literature and folklore as well as Western authors such as Alexandre Dumas, James Fenimore Cooper, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Mark Twain. He developed an early interest in fine arts and literature as a result of the environment in which he grew up. He began painting as a high school student and had his first exhibition at the age of fifteen. Alex Lambeth, who headed the Bulawayo City Council’s African Affairs Department, recognized the boy’s potential and encouraged him to pursue a career in the arts. Additionally, as a teenager, Henry developed a strong social and political conscience and matured into a well-read, hardworking, and talented young man. He received a DAAD scholarship and earned a Master of Fine Arts from the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in West Germany. He held exhibitions throughout Zambia and other parts of the world after completing his education. He was a gifted artist, as well as an avid photographer and lecturer.
Childhood & Adolescence
Henry Tayali was born in Serenje, British Colony of Northern Rhodesia (modern-day Zambia) on 22 November 1943 to Edward Nkole Tayali and Esnati Mumba Tayali. His father worked for the Housing and Amenities Department.
Henry was the eldest of seven brothers and sisters. His hometown is close to the site of the 12,000-year-old Nsalu rock and cave paintings, and he grew up in a culturally diverse environment.
He developed an early passion for painting, and his parents encouraged him in his endeavors. He began painting seriously during his senior year of high school in the 1950s.
He created his work ‘Destiny’ while he was a student at Bulawayo’s Mpopoma High School. The proceeds from his paintings were deposited in the Henry Tayali Painting Fund, which would be used to cover his university tuition.
Following completion of his secondary education, he was awarded a Zambian Government scholarship to study at Uganda’s Makerere University in Kampala, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1971.
Career of Henry
Following his graduation, Henry Tayali returned to Zambia and was hired as a lecturer in African art at the University of Zambia’s Institute of African Studies in Lusaka, and later as University Artist.
In 1972, he was awarded a DAAD scholarship to study for a Master of Fine Arts at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in West Germany.
It was a significant achievement for him, as he became the first African artist south of the equator to receive a DAAD Arts scholarship.
He was a diligent and hardworking student who earned the respect and admiration of his institute’s faculty. Already fluent in several languages, including English, Bemba, and Ngoni, he acquired fluency in German during his stay in the country.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1975 and returned to Lusaka to teach at the Institute of African Studies. He was welcomed home as a genuine Zambian artist.
As an artist, he applied contemporary tools and techniques to traditional art forms effortlessly, creating innovative and beautiful works of art.
While he was primarily a painter, he was also an accomplished sculptor. As his reputation as an artist grew, he painted, sculpted, and exhibited his work throughout the world, including Toronto, Alberta, London, Aachen, and Bulawayo.
He was also an accomplished photographer, having studied the art in college. Always armed with a Leica SLR camera, he relished the opportunity to capture unique and poignant images, which he frequently developed himself. His preferred photographic subjects were people and artifacts. Several of his photographs were subsequently repurposed as postcards.
In 1978, he returned to Germany to pursue a doctorate in fine arts at the Akademie für Bildende Künste. This plan, however, fell through, and he was forced to return to Zambia, a disappointed man.
Significant Works of Henry
Henry Tayali had a tremendous impact on the development of art and culture in twentieth-century Zambia. He also served as president of the International Association of Artists in Zambia (which was affiliated with UNESCO) and served as chairman of the Art Centre Foundation, the Zambian National Craft Council, and the National Museums Board.
Personal History and Legacies
In 1971, he married Regina Mary Birungi Kivubiro. The following year, they were blessed with a son. Regrettably, Regina passed away in 1976.
He married Rosemary Kaluwa and had two children with her. Eventually, the couple married. Henry Tayali was in Germany in 1987 to visit his eldest son and family following his younger brother’s wedding in England.
He was assassinated on 22 July 1987. The world was shocked by his untimely death at the relatively young age of 43.
In his honor, the Zambia National Visual Arts Council (VAC) was founded as the country’s umbrella organization for visual artists, with its headquarters at the Lusaka Showgrounds dubbed “The Henry Tayali Visual Art Centre.”
The Ngoma Awards, sponsored by the National Arts Council of Zambia, present the “Henry Tayali Award” for Best Two-Dimensional Visual Artist.
Estimated Net Worth
Henry is one of the richest Sculptors & is listed as the most popular Sculptor. According to our analysis, Wikipedia, Forbes & Business Insider, Henry Tayali’s net worth is approximately $3 Million.