“How did you come by the nickname ‘Picasso’?”
VKM: I was working with my friends selling our art pieces at Harare Gardens behind Monomutapa Hotel in the city center, a long time ago when I was much younger. We were doing paintings of African village scenes and wildlife. We were all artists, there was Sizza, Warira, Chishaka, and Jaunda all of us doing those kinds of paintings, you know, the kind of art pieces that tourists buy in Harare. So, one day two Frenchmen who had come to Harare to buy art for resale in Reunion came by our stand where we had our pieces laid out. I happened to have one of my own abstract pieces laying on the table, but it was not part what we were selling. So, one of the two Frenchmen asked whose work it was. I told him it was mine. That’s when he called me Picasso. My friends laughed at me because a total stranger had called me what we thought was a funny French name. None of us knew who Picasso was. Then the Frenchman asked if I had any more work like it because he wanted to come back the next day. So, the next day he came back and called me Picasso again. I did not know who Picasso was then and I did not bother to ask him. The Frenchman was a funny guy, and we could tell he was praising my work, so he was not insulting me. To tell the truth, I did not care. I was just happy to sell him my work and make some money to take home because some days we didn’t sell anything.
From then on, my friends and people in my neighborhood started calling me Picasso. The thing is it was all in jest, no one was dissing me. But the name stuck on me. Besides we had names for my other friends too. It was just guys being guys. Sometime later, a long time after that, I found out who Picasso was. It made me happy that I would be given such a nickname, named after one of greatest artists, to have ever lived.
Read more in the book "Zimbabwe's Abstract Artist - Valentine Mutasa"