Mtaki: Portrait of upcoming young artist

Friday January 15 2021
Undare Mtaki.



Whether its simple drawings, or colourings, or something a little more elaborate, art has always been something that drives Undare Mtaki.

The 27-year-old, who also dabbles in architecture, started to draw seriously just last year after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture at Ardhi University in Tanzania in 2019.

He has been painting since he was young -- a self-taught artist. This year he plans to open his own art gallery to promote African art and create more opportunities for Tanzanian art and the art world.

This has been his passion since his childhood when he was five and wished to paint.

After completing his degree at Ardhi University, Mtaki worked for a month then quit his job to pursue his passion. He believes he can use art to make the world a better place for all humanity.

“Most of the time when I want to draw I imagine the idea and put on the paper, then I paint it with colours and also I take a lot of photos and combine ideas from multiple sources, either by photos or models posing,” Mtaki said


According to Mtaki his sales are mostly on social media (especially Instagram), where he promotes his works. However, he plans to open a website to reach a wider audience globally.

Asking price

Last year he participated in Swahili Fashion Week for the first time and reached a sizeable audience. Currently he is working on 100 paintings to educate his clients about how African fashion and cultural fashion can coexist together without ruining African culture.

When he started, he used to sell his paintings for between $3.43 (Tsh8,000) and  ($214.45) Tsh500,000 and sometimes, more than that. "It depends on the type of paint and art needed by a client...the asking price can go higher,” Mtaki said.

He was inspired by artists from inside and outside Tanzania, and his hope is to hold an exhibition this year after which pieces will be available to sale.

Tanzanian presidents.

"Pamoja Rohoni", a drawing of Tanzania's presidents, by artist Undare Mtaki. PHOTO | DOROTHY NDALU | THE EASTAFRICAN

His favourite drawing is one of the five presidents of Tanzania -- first President Julius Nyerere, current President John Magufuli, former president Hassan Mwinyi, late President Benjamin Mkapa, and former President Jakaya Kikwete. The painting  is called “Pamoja Rohoni” (translates to: together in spirit.

Mr Mtaki made the piece to show that the heads of state remain with citizens in spirit, and that their work was not invalid.

“Every painting is titled because a title summarises what a painting is all about. Sometimes when a person sees the painting they might not understand the message, but naming a painting might give the idea to the beholder what the illustration is about.

"The title represents the painting because you might have a lot of paintings and it is easy to sell them using their annotations because people like to have things branded and named,” Mtaki said.

When an idea pops up in his head, Mtaki takes a pencil and paper and sketches it roughly, then uses colour and oil painting, acrylic painting, or water colours on it.

He later transfers the idea onto a bigger canvas and uses either acrylic or oil paint.

The challenges he is facing is lack of support from the community as people claim that art work is expensive.