HomeLife & StyleSalanje pays homage to grandma through exhibition

Salanje pays homage to grandma through exhibition



PORTRAYED as an appetiser, The Preview Show that opened on May 28 and will run until July 8 at Artillery Gallery in Harare, brings strong works from eleven artists.

Gallerist Peter Kaunda decided on a non-thematic exhibition to allow artists to explore different issues that preoccupied them since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that was followed by hard to moderate lockdowns.

While some went for philosophical and metaphysical abstraction, Sky Salanje took on a simple domestic bliss.

His large canvas titled Raised by Grandma is an ode to maternal love that reaches beyond generations.

In vibrant colours, the work depicts an elderly woman seated on a stool with a baby clutched to her bosom.

The multiple colours and patched look of the wall behind her, and the rustic furniture are signs of a humble home.

A pot with a long handle is in the foreground. Various other cooking utensils and foodstuffs are on display in the background.

At this point, there is no hunger in this house. A symbolic white bottle on the floor beside the stool suggests that the baby is well fed.

Quilted fabrics on their bodies signal warmth and comfort.

The picture raises questions about the depicted situation. One wonders if the baby’s mother is dead, is at work, or simply gave up responsibility.

As the matriarch single-handedly raised her grandchild without grief, there was no need for an answer.

The work is not aimed at shaming the absent parents. Emphasis is placed on the grandmas’ gloriously lit face.

Her closed eyes allow the viewer to unabashedly witness her intimate and private moment.

With shut eyelids, her face hovers above the crown of the baby whose face is tucked over her breast. There is a palpable connection. The hands gently and protectively wrapped around the baby solidify their bond.

The title of the painting may be read as euphemism for a spoiled brat. It can be associated with the stereotype of a child raised without proper discipline.

Traditionally in Zimbabwe, a child raised under the care of grandparents never suffers abuse. The overabundance of a grandmother’s love is considered to be spoiling to character by certain considerations.

Without the constraints of a given theme, Salanje glories in painting the atypical family portrait.

Men are conspicuously absent from the narrative. This highlights the exceptional role women play in the community.

His lyrical brush strokes and choice of colours ennoble the subject, and dignify her environment. The artwork shows appreciation, and pays homage where it is due.

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