African artists bring ‘voices’ to Harare

Masimba Hwati working on one of his pieces

Masimba Hwati working on one of his pieces

Own Correspondent
The African Voices Exhibition is now running at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare until end of October.

This exhibition encompasses artist from three generations to lend their voices from different angles and perspectives. Participating artists in this exhibition are those in their middle of their art career and emerging artist from around Arica and the diaspora.

Some of these artists include Evans Mutenga, Terrence Musekiwa, Virginia Chihota, Moffat Takadiwa, Portia Zvavahera, Masimba Hwati, Michele Mathison from Zimbabwe, Mario Macilao (Mozambique), Yonamine( Angola), Mohau Modisakeng( South Africa) Longinos Nagila (Kenya), Aida Muluneh (Ethiopia), Cyrus Kabiru (Kenya) Peterson Kimathi (Kenya), Dineo Seshee Bopape (South Africa) to mention but a few.

The exhibition’s main thrust is centered on confronting frontiers. It is time to take stock of the past and present by tapping into into social, cultural, economic and biogenetic transmutation realities that confront Africans daily. Questions stand: To whom does Africa belong? Whose Africa are we talking about? Where is our Being African? The legacy of colonialism has been so influential that we have lost who we are. Self-hate is seen as normal. The freedom of movement remains dream in the Africa that was envisioned by the nationalists decades ago. Decolonisation and the common passport remains another fantasy. As it stands, culture continues to feed from a ruptured world, and from a ruptured people.

The grand colonial programs that led to the fragmentation of a continent are a reality that we continue to ignore. Africa remains unable to listen and understand the importance of having a dialogue about this reality. The gigantic colonial programme that led to the partitioning of a continent are a reality that people continue to ignore. Africa remains dump to listen and understand the paramount importance of this dialogue. Outbreaks of the deadly HIV and Aids, the epidemic Ebola virus and political unrest are common in all Africa. Hence the art works in this exhibition are a mimic of the African voice which is the voice of reason. Rhetoric questions such as: To whom does Africa belong? Whose Africa are we talking about? Where the Being African is are asked.

The systematic raptures between different African countries brings together a special significance of new narratives, narratives that can bring human development.

Kabiru is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of Africa’s leading names associated with Afrofuturism. Highly individualistic, Kabiru creates intricate sculptural artworks from recycled materials that he finds throughout his hometown of Nairobi. Through his use of found materials, Kabiru creates a dialogue between his life story and the thriving African city in which he lives, allowing him to assert his identity in the present as well as explore his dreams of the future.

South African artist Mohau Modisakeng’s piece titled “Ditaola XV”

South African artist Mohau Modisakeng’s piece titled “Ditaola XV”

Ogopoleng Kgomoethata was born in Botswana with impeccable passion for fine-art photography. His portfolio influenced by Social Realism Movement is awash with awards. In 2012 he won Beijing through the Eyes of the Foreigner award at the time he was furthering his studies in journalism in China. Also in 2014 he won 2nd best Thapong Visual Art Centre (TVAC) Artist of the Year Award. The Centre is the biggest and sole art Centre in Botswana. He is the 2013 and 2015 best photography category winner within TVAC Artist of the Year Awards. As fate would have it he was nominated in 2014 and 2015 Presidential Art Exhibitions awards.

He has extensively exhibited and his first bite was in 2003 when he won the Most Promising Artist award during a Group Exhibition of Students studying in South Africa. His pursuit for capturing powerful images has earned him respect in and outside university as he managed to exhibit at Standard Bank Exhibition in Pretoria, South Africa in 2004 where his first image was sold.

The tide of history brought colonialism and with this were the concomitant attempts to superimpose foreign religious utterly destroyed the vigor and the art of native life. The idea in my visual language is that I enlarge the form and depict the myth of African traditions.

Mutenga is always inspired by nudity, just like what the Khoisan used to do. He is fascinated with pattern making, decorations or decorative art. Matenga is also inspired by nature in many different poses, often serving as a stem or base for receptacles and other useful objects such as drinking vessels, clay pots, drums and some other spherical objects. He prefers working on paper because for him it’s a type of material that he can play or experiment with it until he gets the results he wants. Evans Tinashe Mutenga, graphic artist, was born 1987 in Nyanga. He is a graduate of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe School of Visual Art and Design.

Yonamine comes from an “erased” country, Angola. A country which history, instead of working as a palimpsest – that is, a text over which multiple writings were produced leaving notice of those preceding them – has always worked as an erasing process. History has been erased in the name of a bigger interest. The colonial past that Yonamine evokes with a subtle irony was removed by the sudden decolonization process, which, by its turn, was erased by the war that now is being erased by peace. This consecutive cleaning process was an abrasive one, as if the body (of the country) was being wiped out with a steel brush. And the skin, constantly wounded, mutated into a hard, scaly skin, into a carapace.

Moffat Takadiwa creates large-scale sculptural pieces from ordinarily discarded materials, including everything from computer waste, aerosol cans and spray bottles, to toothbrushes and toothpaste tubes. He weaves together these small everyday objects to make impressive organic forms evocative of jewel-encrusted excess or a ritualistic kind of minimalism. The artist’s choice of materials communicates his concern with issues around consumerism, inequality, post-colonialism and the environment. These are some of the artists that exhibit during for the African voices exhibition: Confronting Frontiers. The exhibition is currently on at the National Gallery and will run to the end of October 2017. The African Voices Exhibition is supported by the British Council.

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