BY NYADZOMBE NYAMPENZA
NATIONAL Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) is hosting the Zimbabwe@41 exhibition that reflects on the artistic expressions of the citizens as part of the country’s belated 41st Independence Day celebrations.
The exhibition, curated by Lilian Chaonwa, showcases artworks from its permanent collection acquired since 1980 and is conveniently segmented into four decades, with each section capturing the emotional state of the period.
This helps in understanding the work from its proper context. It also restrains critical judgments made from hindsight.
The artwork inspires recollection of events. They make the viewer see themselves as part of a larger consciousness.
Zimbabwe@41 is an engaging tour of altering moods, and sentiments. The epoch-marking project includes works previously commissioned for Zimbabwe’s participation at the Venice Biennale.
An excellent inclusion in the show is the piece titled Zimbabwe Is Super by Stephen Williams. In spite of its title, the canvas is a gory mess of red.
The work is a square-shaped canvas that looks like a bloody battleground. The large shape is mimicked by receding smaller squares.
A much smaller square at the centre is painted in white. Perspective makes it look like the light at the proverbial end of the tunnel.
Obscured behind the symbolic white is the Zimbabwe coat of arms. This piece was created in 1980.
In the year of its creation, the significance of its dominant colour would be a common symbol relating to the struggle for independence.
For Zimbabweans, blood is a literal and metaphorical representation of sacrifice. Blood is mentioned in the national anthem and codified in the national flag.
At 41, the country has come a long way, yet it continues to face challenges to its sustained ideals from 1980.
Williams’ piece arouses a sense of resolve and optimism. The patriotic coat of arms beckons with hope beyond the misty white.
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