Sculpture experts tear into NAMA adjudicators

Gregory Mutasa showcases the Bathing Sheba sculpture

SHONA Sculpture Gallery directors have torn into National Arts Merit Awards (NAMA) adjudicators for their faulty decision to award Edson Kangadza’s work in the 3D Visual Arts category when it was a “poorly-executed copy” of the work of well-known artist, Gregory Mutasa.


Gregory Mutasa showcases the Bathing Sheba sculpture
Gregory Mutasa showcases the Bathing Sheba sculpture

In a strongly-worded letter written to the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe (Nacz) acting director Nicholas Moyo, the gallery’s director, Tim Haire, accused the council of poor selection of deserving artworks.

“The three works selected for the shortlist were a poor representation of the wide range of contemporary talent, and the piece chosen as the category winner (Washing Hair by Edson Kangadza) stood out for all the wrong reasons,” Haire said in the letter signed by fellow directors — Emma Haire and Morgan Tazvitya, as well as managers
David Chikuzeni and Wengai Chilenga.

Haire said the award-winning piece did not deserve the accolade because it was not an original work, as anyone involved in sculpture would know.

“The main reason this piece was not a suitable for crowning glory is that it is not an original work. It is a poorly-executed copy, of the style of a well-known artist Gregory Mutasa, and anyone involved in the sculpture movement in Zimbabwe knows it as a Bathing Sheba, the name given to it by Gregory,” he said.

Haire said all the finalists in the 3D Visual Arts category — Happy Times’by Rufaro Murenza, Welcome Kiss by Andamiyo Chihota and Kangadza’s Washing Hair — were a “poor representation of the wide range of contemporary talent”, while the eventual winner “stood out for all the wrong reasons”.

He challenged Nacz to revisit their selection of the judges for the category in the future and ensure that they included experts in Zimbabwe’s sculpture movement.

“This disgraceful decision is a travesty that reveals the judging panel for the 3D visual arts category is lacking in expertise. There should be someone among

the judges with the experience to select from the entries and only truly original ground breaking ideas executed with excellent technique and attention to detail,” he said.

Haire said of late, adjudicators have been bereft of the requisite skills to discern true talent from generic craft.

Apart from the 3D visual arts category, The Outstanding Screen Production — Full Length Film category won by Muzita Rababa and directed by Nick Zemura also attracted mixed reactions, as both film enthusiasts and makers queried how a television series could win in that category.

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