From Zimbabwe to the world … National Gallery of Zimbabwe executive director Raphael Chikukwa (second left) presents the grand prize to Tejswini Narayan Sonawane at the ongoing 35th edition of the Ljubljana Biennale of Graphic Arts in Slovenia recently.
A printmaker from India, Sonawane’s works reveal personal stories, emotional states, relationship dynamics and transformation.
The Ljubljana biennale opened to the public on September 15 with a programme of events that ran throughout that weekend, including guided tours, artist talks, performances and concerts, as well as announcements of this year’s prize winners.
Chikukwa was one of the six-member international jury of the biennale.
The arts showcase, held in various locations in Slovenian capital, is running under the theme “From the void came gifts of the cosmos”, which explores the ecosystem of connections, solidarity and histories of resistance that emerge from the once close ties between post- independence Ghana and the former Yugoslavia.
Under the artistic direction of Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama, the biennale this year brings together nearly 50 artists in printmaking, film, installation and performance, to present newly commissioned and existing works alongside material from the biennale archive.
Zimbabwean artist Virginia Chihota, who lives and works in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is also exhibiting at the biennale.
Her installation is showing under the title “Before I Formed Thee in the Belly I Knew Thee, 2003–2023”, which the biennale describes as a “drypoint on paper, ink, plastic and eyelets; etching and aquatint on paper; silkscreen, collagraphy on paper and ink on silk mesh”.
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In this installation, Chihota revisits fragments of prints from her formative years
when she studied in Harare with Chikonzero “Chiko” Chazunguza and her work connects Chiko’s legacy and “Chihota’s personal journey from Zimbabwe to Montenegro or most recently Ethiopia, and the memory of Zimbabwean artists who gave their work away to the former Yugoslavia”.
The work functions like a psychological ghost trip that carries genesis, identity, memory and process, as well as glimpses at history through a veil “of the void from which came gifts of the cosmos”.
The global showcase will run till January 14 next year.