Internationally-acclaimed, New York based African-American artist Simone Leigh gave a public lecture on her art works at Harare Conversations, an international art forum which examined the theme Breaking Boundaries of Art, Gender and Cultural Conceptions, at the National Gallery.
Initiated by the new gallery curator Raphael Chikukwa, it is a concept which he conceived as a platform for exchange and integrating our contemporaries in the global art arena.
Leigh’s work investigates tropes of the ethnographic object; the black body and labour by using materials associated with the global black liberation movement.
Within her work she eschews the tidy reductive of post-colonial discourse, through sculptural works that evoke Pan-African symbolism and celestial motifs associated with Afro-Futurism.
Leigh’s obsessive process and the natural materials employed in her work, which parallel the iconographic development of various histories, are central to the formation of contemporary black identity.
As a visiting artist, she was impressed by Zimbabwean hospitality, freedom of movement and intellectual prowess.
As an arts ambassador, she was impressed also by the light-filled design space available at the National Arts Gallery, and the professionalism exhibited by the administrative staff.
Through the visual arts, Leigh has come to learn of the beauty of Zimbabwe and to appreciate the peaceful nature of the people and intellectual prowess of Zimbabwean international artists.
It is hoped that through the international forums, Zimbabwe will re-establish its position as an innovative and creative leader in international art discourses.
Leigh will participate in the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Arts-in-Residence programme in the autumn of 2010, and hopefully articulate the Zimbabwean experience in her art works.
As a true international African ambassador, it is hoped she will tell the Zimbabwean art story.