Background & Inspiration
In Nya’s work, the theme of fatherhood is visually discoursed from a spiritual and hence original precept with the intention of underscoring the amaranthine obligations intrinsically weaved in the duties and roles of a father. But even though every work alludes to the theme in multifariously subtle ways, one piece that perhaps stands out and epitomizes the artist’s revelatory comprehension of a Father is this composition, “Blueprint of Grace.”
To appreciate the eminence of “Blueprint of Grace” as well as reverentially understand why “Fatherhood” is a critically universal theme in the artist’s oeuvre, it is vital to articulate the initial conception, incubation, maturation and birth of the painting.
Nya’ began to compose the spiritual alphabet for “Blueprint of Grace” when he was about 6 years old. In his painting notes, Nya’ narrates a parable of how occasionally before supper in his native land of Zimbabwe, a certain mother would sit her son down in her bedroom and metaphorically pull up letters from an old envelope with stamps from different countries.
Before reading a portion of one of the peculiar letters, the mother, whom Nya’ described in his biography as “the embodiment of Grace, the paragon of Love and the indisputable testament of the joy of gratitude,” would charge her son;
“I want you to open your heart and carefully listen as I read to you these important letters from your Father. You must meditate and obey all His words in order for you to be successful in all your ways.”
The word is a mirror
Despite his excitement, Nya’ describes how the young boy secretly wondered in his mind why the handwriting in every letter resembled his mother’s peculiar handwriting.
What the boy also found amazing about these letters, which in essence are the subject of “Blueprint of Grace” is how each letter seemed relevant to what he was going through and, in most cases, thinking in the secret chambers of his heart. At times, a part of the letter would warn him of imminent danger while another letter would advise him on the path to take, more like orchestrating a divine plan for him to follow.
Aside from alluding to what he was going through, what the boy also found astounding and perhaps encouraged him to remember the contents in each letter was how his father, who had left them (divorced his mother) when he was two years old seemed to know everything about him. In his notes, Nya’ mentions how through the letters, the Father would teach the boy the unsurpassable value of faith, purpose and vision.
The Father would also tell the young boy about their blood covenant which He constantly described as imperishable and unfailing. In fact, the subject of blood was very regular in the letters that they began to influence the boy’s watercolor drawings (see fig 1).
Furthermore, the Father explained in great imagery how His perfect seed of greatness and perfect blood was naturally in his (the boy′s) spiritual DNA hence he was immune to diseases, failure, frustration and the spirit of fear, complaining, depression, discouragement, anger, irresponsibility and bitterness that seemed to dominate and control his peers who were also being raised by “single mothers.”
The Father also told the young boy how His fondest will was for him to grow up healthy and become prosperous in everything he focused his mind and diligently dedicated his spirit, soul and body to accomplish.
This is alluded to in “Blueprint of Grace” through the architecturally rendered lines that represent the virtues of focus and discipline and the fruit of faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, peace, temperance and patience a son can only receive from the seed of His Father.
Abiding in the path of true light
In one of the letters that the mother frequently read, The Father stated that His reason for leaving the boy was so that He could live inside him. Though this was difficult for the young boy to understand, he believed it and would try to express it in his drawings (see fig 2).
When his friends and teachers asked him where his father was and why they never saw him like other fathers, Nya′ stated how the young boy would always smile and with joy, conviction and keen alacrity, boldly say,
“He is inside me, He left, so that He could be with me and in me all the time.”
Even though this might have sounded very strange, crazy and perhaps foolish to say the least, Nya’ explains how the boy did not care as he was convinced of His Father's permanent residence inside him through his feeling of invincibility, supernatural strength, wisdom and boldness when he needed it; but most importantly, because of the profound letters read to him by his mother.
When any external and internal voice would rouse him to doubt, Nya’ expressed how the young boy would pause and ponder; “if His Father was not inside Him, then why did he often feel His presence and how did He seem to know everything about him as evinced in the letters?”
Abiding in the presence of the source of your breath
When the young boy was about 12 years old, his mother handed him a black worn-out book he immediately recognized. This is the black book with frail pages and with some words written in red and her mother’s scribbled notes on the margins that he saw her read every morning. As she handed him the black leather-covered book, with tears rolling down her cheeks, she said to him;
“Son, this book contains all the letters from your Father, read these letters before you sleep and when you wake up, keep the letters in your heart, and speak only your Father's words, especially when you are afraid and don’t know what to do, for in your Father's Word lies all the answers to life.”
In narrating this story in his biography, Nya’ pointed to his last preparatory drawing for “Blueprint of Grace” which shows a tripartite silhouette of a human torso whose source of life is emanating from The Word in red implanted within it... (see fig 3) before he concluded by saying:
“It was only when I became a man, that I fully comprehended that all these years, my mother was helping me to nurture an intimate relationship with my Lord and Savior, my King, my Father and eternal Mentor who dwells in me - THE HOLY SPIRIT.”
Technically distinguished by its strict graphic regularity, a severe formal restraint and an impalpable sublimity, “Blueprint of Grace” uses the artist’s ingenious and ineffably laborious method of singly indenting alphabetical letters on carefully prepared canvas using wires, needles and thread and occasionally copious amounts of delicately mixed pastes; a technique he began as a young boy and has gradually honed.
The graphic clarity of Nya’s rhythmical marks, accentuated by a combination of symmetric gestures and an inconspicuous palette establishes a fluid lyrical elegance and a painterly language that solely expresses the transcendental and anomalous elements.
The word is a healing bank for every soul
Comprised of dove creams that graduate into saffron whites and ebullient shades of gold, the canvas-grounded piece is a semi-chromatic composition whose sublime, subtle and refined palette connotes the ethereal mirth, immeasurable peace and abiding love that engulfs one’s consummate being in the presence of “The Father.”
The mixture of drops of lamp’s blood and synthetic paints to partially blanket the words on the heart of the picture plane makes it unambiguous that the painting is alluding to the sacrificial and steadfast love of an Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient Father who had already designed a plan to bring His beloved children back into His rich inheritance long before they transgressed.
The Father, whose forgiving nature and supreme deity, as portrayed by the snow-white and variant shades of gold, is a paragon of immortal, immutable, irrevocable and inexplicable purity.