BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
TOP four Zimbabwean artists’ crafts will be showcased at the 59th edition of the La Biennale di Venezia exhibition, set for Venice in Italy from May to November next year.
Addressing a Press conference at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) in Harare recently, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry said Ronald Muchatuta, Kresiah Mukwazhi, Terrence Musekiwa and Wallen Mapondera would represent the country at the Italian exhibition.
The four artists were selected by a jury consisting of curator Fadzai Muchemwa, art critic and artist Nyadzombe Nyampenza, journalist Tinashe Muchuri, investment banker Freda Isingoma, design imaginer Sif X Zilawe, curator Clifford Zulu and Biggie Samwanda, the principal director, arts in the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation ministry.
Coventry said the artists chosen out of over 20 names made an impact in global art circles through their works that express their perspective and interpret contemporaneity in an engaging and inventive manner.
“It is because of these trailblazing young and mature artists that Zimbabwe is viewed from a different lens as cultured as our history, as critical in thought as any other nation in the world, and fearless in telling our own stories,” she said.
“The artists selected after a rigorous examination of talent are all mature, with over 10 years of practice and honing their painterly skills and having mass appeal on the international market.
“They will now produce artworks commissioned by the Pavilion of Zimbabwe’s Commissioner, Raphael Chikukwa, to be exhibited at the International Art Exhibition that is slated for May to November of 2022.”
A closer look at the chosen artists’ profiles shows that Muchatuta in the last two decades has emerged as a passionate visual artist who is determined to make an impact in the arts cycles.
Through his craft, Muchatuta explores Zimbabwean’s mass exodus to the diaspora.
He examines the effect of leaving one’s homeland physically, spiritually and psychologically.
His works’ themes revolve around contemporary issues facing the people of southern Africa — migration, identity, politics, post-colonialism and discrimination.
As such, his work is influenced by displacement and the relationship between exiles and migrants.
He works cut across different mediums including illustration, painting, collage and mosaics.
His artworks are found in private, public and corporate collections including The Spier collection, Hollard, Board Members of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Nandos — fine art collection, US Senate offices and others based in Africa and abroad.
He has participated in several exhibitions in Africa and internationally including the Stellenbosch Triennale and is often invited to participate in dialogues on issues pertinent to art in Africa.
Mukwazhi was a resident artist at the Nafasi Art Space in 2019, which culminated in an artistic talk in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
She was also a resident artist at Katutura Art Centre in Windhoek, Namibia, supported by ANT mobility grant, Pro Helvetia.
She has participated in various symposiums, notably — Live Art Workshop at the Institute of Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town and The Arts Of Africa And Global South at Rhodes University.
Mukwazhi had her debut solo exhibition, Bedroom Interview, with SMAC gallery in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018.
Her work has been included in numerous group exhibitions including Five Bhob — Painting at the end of an era at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCCA) and Mixed Company at Norval Foundation both in Cape Town.
She is a fellow of the 2020 ICA online fellowship and recently had her second solo exhibition titled Mukando at Jan Kaps gallery in Cologne, Germany.
The Chitungwiza-based Musekiwa started carving stone at the age of five. Initially, he was helping his father, Kennedy, and later moving from traditional aesthetics.
Musekiwa is a graduate from the School of The National Gallery of Zimbabwe with a visual art studio degree.
His generational knowledge of carving shapes his works into spiritual and political metaphors.
In recent years, Musekiwa has broadened his practice, venturing into clay and silk sculpting.
He has held solo exhibitions that include Standing On A line, Not Being On Either Side At Catinca Tabacaru New York (2017); Coming From Where We Are Going, Catinca Tabacaru, New York (2019); and A House in A House, hFACTOR, Lagos Island, Nigeria (2019).
In addition to private collections around the world, Musekiwa’s work has been included in the permanent collections of the United States of America embassies, the NGZ in Harare, Villa Datris Foundation, Tiroche DeLeon Collection and Joel and Sherry Mallin Collection.
The South Africa-based Mapondera completed his masters degree in fine art from Rhodes University in 2019.
His awards and residencies include: the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Artist-in-Residence Programme hosted at the National Gallery School of Visual Arts and Design Studios in Harare in 2007, the artist-in-residence programme at the Vermont Studio Center, Burlington in Vermont, United States of America in 2012 and he was the recipient of the National Arts Merit Award in 2015.
Part of his solo exhibitions include: Chirema Chine Mazano Chinotamba Chakazendama Madziro (Part One), the artist’s MFA exhibition which opened at Rhodes University in Makhanda, South Africa in 2019, Chirema Chine Mazano Chinotamba Chakazendama Madziro (Part Two) at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town in 2020, presentation at Atelier Mondial in Basel, Switzerland in 2019 and Emergency Exit at Tyburn Gallery in London, United Kingdom.
Follow Winstone on Twitter @widzoanto