|Gallery takes art to the people|
|Sunday, 05 June 2011 20:25|
Inscribed in their documents of existence among other things, First Floor Gallery recognises that art as a cultural language is for the people and should be taken to the populace.
The strategic establishment of their base in city centre Harare, George Silundika Avenue, in an ancient multi- storey colonial building was attracted by the enclosure's hyper of activity with interminable volumes of human traffic, hundreds of tenants of tailors, embroiders and knitters.
It was also established on the recognition that some of the most vibrant art spaces in the world have been built upon the will of the struggling artists to enforce a break-through in the art world and be heard.
Recently for the first time in their young existence, First Floor Gallery defected from their base in a move to show their flexibility and taking art to the people by conducting their first ever international art exhibition at The Basement on 40 Samora Machel Avenue in Harare.
The Basement is a spacious basement where there are other artistic genres like live music, theatre and film taking place with an African restaurant and a cocktail bar in one place. The enclosure down under attracts throngs of people from all walks of life and had the art exhibition well attended.
The development by FFG to take art closer to the people is highly commended as the majority of the population rarely steps into intimidating buildings they are unsure of their existences.
Many people in Harare interminably use the front outside structures of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Julius Nyerere Way as a meeting place where parents drop off or pick up their infants to and from school.
Lovers meet to enter the Harare Gardens and loafers sit, relax and enjoy the clean structures by the pool but do not dare step into the wide classical glassy doors of the gallery where artwork could be seen from outside.
The exhibition at The Basement titled "‘Art In The City" featured paintings by South African-born Australian artist Richard Butler-Bowdon, who was supported by a couple of credible young artists who are regular exhibitors in many important national art shows.
Butler-Bowdon was born in 1961 in Cape Town, South Africa, and has been an expressionist in various media with enormous African influence although he works and lives in Melbourne, Australia.
His latest work in the show were high end portraiture paintings that expressed various moods of native Africans who included "Samson", "Leilani", "The Christian Part 1 and 2", to mention a few which were in rich texture and luminous colours of high quality oils on
The supporting seasonal young innovative artists like Brian Banda had a mixed media installation titled "Empty Promises", which in an art competition would scoop a major prize.
Six empty metal cups of similar sizes but in different colours were deliberately hollowed like school shoes with their laces and hung like pendulums in an irregular manner on a white clothed background wall.
The seventh cup was larger but hollowed all over without any laces.
The cups did not have the capacity to hold anything, not even a speck of dust but empty promises.
Wycliffe Mundopa used his loose hand roughly in a series of three pieces on paper titled "Crisis" in a multiple of figurative black pen sketched colourful drawings.
The moving sketches portrayed a multitude of rural women in hyper of activity going through their domestic chores in a period of crisis.
Franklin Dzingai brought his "Mixed Feelings" in a touch of printmaking while National Arts Merit Award winner Zacharaha Magasa had a three-part series of hanging constructions in "City Hype".
The usual suspect and director of the First Floor Gallery, Moffat Takadiwa, brought a variety of his
suffocated bottles connected to all sorts in maestro execution.
l Stephen Garan'anga is an international fine art practitioner, independent art projects co-ordinator, chairperson of AfricanColours Artists, executive member Batapata International Artists' Workshop, critical visual arts writer amongst other things. He can be contacted on email: firstname.lastname@example.org.