BY NYADZOMBE NYAMPENZA
WITH the intermittent lockdowns due to COVID-19, artists across genres have had to think outside the box to remain visible and court patrons.
Most visual artists already advertise and find buyers online, but the seduction of white walls and physical audience cannot be totally replaced.
Instead of waiting for an open call to one of Harare’s few galleries, emerging visual artists Sky Salanje and Tafadzwa Guzha recently took it upon themselves to host an exhibition titled Zvakadzama Zvirimumoyo at the former’s Wailers Studio.
The exhibition Zvakadzama Zvirimumoyo, which can translate as intimate matters of the heart, showcased paintings and multimedia works in various sizes.
For a self-curated exhibition, the display maximised the utilisation of space and light. It could, however, benefit from an independent curator for a tighter storyline.
Some of the small, but powerful works were Mushakabvu John by Salanje and Hwevo by Guzha, alongside large-scale works Ndezvemeso and Tapera.
Mushakabvu John, (the late John) is a small portrait of a woman whose facial features are obscured by an excessively applied black pigment.
While the artist clearly derives pleasure from the melanin, he reserves detail for one eye that is actually a picture of a man cut into an oval shape.
Salanje says the man in the picture is his maternal uncle who died over a decade ago. So, this work is a testimony to the bond between the artist and the deceased.
It is also a demonstration of the endurance of memory after bereavement.
Hwevo can roughly be translated as something that can be drawn through a pipe.
The title alludes to the widespread use of crystal meth.
Guzha tackles the issue of drug addiction amongst his peers. His painting shows a face latching onto a meth pipe with another ghostly face hovering in the background.
The dizzying hyper saturated pallet mirrors the psychedelic hallucinations that users of the drug may experience as Guzha chronicles the rot and lack of hope without shaming the victims.
Moffat Takadiwa who was recently appointed to the board of the National Arts Council together with several other young artists was the guest of honour at the exhibition.
In his address, Takadiwa encouraged fellow artists to be well read and treat the arts sector as an industry in its own right.
“Zimbabwe has moved into the spotlight of the art world. Up-and-coming artists must take advantage of opportunities opened up by those who came before them,” he said.
Takadiwa also applauded Chitungwiza artists for their unity while pointing out that collectives were the way to go.
This successful exhibition was a bold step in a new direction with great potential for educating the surrounding community, and stimulating the local market, and satisfying art lovers.
Among the guests at the show were Webster Mubayirenyi, Anusa Salanje, and next year’s representatives for Zimbabwe at the Venice Biennale Wallen Mapondera and Terrence Musekiwa.
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