AFTER her works were exibited at the 55th Venice Biennale in Italy last year, local visual artist Portia Zvavahera stole the heart of international gallerist, Michael Stevenson, who is currently exhibiting her works until February 22 in Cape Town.
Last year, she participated at the 55th Venice Biennale in June running under the theme The Encyclopedia Palace and its curatorial theme identified for the exhibition was DUDZIRO: Interrogating the visions of religious beliefs.
At that time, the Zimbabwe Pavilion commissioner Doreen Sibanda and the curator Raphael Chikukwa led a team of five diverse artists who represented Zimbabwe including Zvahera.
The team also demonstrated the vibrancy of the visual art scene from a Zimbabwean perspective within Africa.
Zvavahera’s works that are already at the Stevenson Gallery in Cape Town are running under an exhibition which opened last week titled Mavambo Erwendo: Zvavahera.
“After the Venice Biennale, Stevenson came to Zimbabwe to meet Zvavahera and having known him for many years as one of the top gallerists in Africa, I see this as a good move,” Chikukwa said.
He said they showcased artists in Venice as it was a big platform to expose them and it was a good development that a young artists like Zvavahera goes to Venice and get international gallerists like Michael Stevenson interested.
He said he hoped that more international gallerists would keep coming to Zimbabwe.
Chikukwa said after a meeting with Stevenson at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, they toured the gallery leading the gallerist to donate 50 art books which arrived before Christmas and are now part of the gallery library.
“This means we must continue working hard and be a place where international contemporary art players look at,” he said.
“Local artists must not despair for Rome was not built in one day and we are slowly reclaiming our international place.”
Since Zimbabwe’s debut participation at the Venice Biennale more than 10 international curators have visited the country.
Chikukwa said they were also expecting other international artists, curators and scholars in 2014, among them Christine Eyene (UK) and Jorg Scheller (Switzerland).
Zvavahera was born in 1985 in Juru, and her paintings display a deep understanding of colour and the language of expressionism in a raw style of painting seldom seen in southern Africa.
A distinctive aspect of her works is her integration of painterly mark-making with print-making in the form of textile-like patterns in her imagery.
She was an artist-in-residence at Greatmore Studios, Cape Town, in 2009 and last year won the 10th Tollman Award for the Visual Arts by Art Throb.