Zimbabwean art on global arena (Part 1)

For a year in which doom and gloom have been largely predicted, the Visual art scene stands on its self sufficiency and soldiers on to a brighter future. With 2015 having been a year where the consumption of so-called “African Art” received a bolster through Okwui Enwezour’s helming of the 56th Biennale di Venezia, the global appreciation of Art from all over the African continent is overwhelming with the likes of artists such as Jelili Atiku, Wangechi Mutu and Thenjiwe Nkosi making a buzz on the international scene, Zimbabwean artists are inclusive of this creative and cultural crescendo.

Visual Art in Zimbabwe is on a rise, particularly amongst the Millennial generation, that is artists aged between the ages of 21 and 35 years of age.

Cue Masimba Hwati, Virginia Chihota, Moffat Takadiwa and Portia Zvavahera, whom in the previous six months, have held highly lauded exhibitions around the world. Aside from these stellar solo exhibitions staged in Europe and the Americas, a number of local Galleries have made strides into this rapacious international market with a less avid local market which is somewhat limited when it comes to audience and buyers.

The mass appeal of biennales, residencies and art fairs has given a boost to many, Nancy Mteki is one artist to be noted, as she commences her residence at the Autonomous Cultural Centre in Weimar, Germany; which may culminate in highly interesting artwork from the artist, which has become one of her key trademarks.

More closer to home, in this year heralded ‘bleak’ for the arts, several opportunities to view the highly intriguing visual art scene are accessible locally and internationally; the recently opened Kabbo Ka Muwala: The Girl’s Basket exhibition, now running at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, two internationally known artists exhibited. Kudzanai Chiurai and Gerald Machona, both who were exhibiting for the first time in Zimbabwe, showcase works that are conceptually analytical of the argumentations and pretexts of migration. Chiurai posits the Christian faith migratory, as part of its Mission was to diffuse the world over and in its denomination, evolve continuously. Machona’s concept propositions a much more metaphysical use of his running-in theme; the bearer cheque. The sense of alienation in his work draws inspiration from Yao mythology.

The homecoming artists do much more than present great art in this instance as they provide the emerging talent that is being developed in the several institutions around Harare with stimulation and drive to create catechistic artwork that serves the purpose of objectively existing for its own state and beyond, stimulating inward looking thought for the viewer.

This ripple moves from looking within to the outside world, the National Gallery School of Visual Art and Design, with the support of Pro Helvetia, exhibited at the Cape Town Art Fair from February 19 to 21. The exhibition was a mix of work from the current and former students as well as the instructor recognised artists such as Anthony Bumhira, Admire Kamudzengerere and Franklin Dzingai. The exhibition dubbed Taibva was the National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s first outing on the Art Fair circuit in Africa and aims to give the most vivid account of the Contemporary Art scene in the country and the continent.

The three artists were not be the only Zimbabwean presence, as Chief Curator, Raphael Chikukwa was part of a discussion on the re-emergence of ‘African’ art on the global scene. He was joined by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s former director, Christopher Till, who now runs the Apartheid Museum and the Javett Center of the Arts. With the infusion of young blood in the entire scheme of the Global Cultural Dialogue, the National Gallery School of Visual Art and Design is well set to help in the propulsion of careers of young artists.

The second and last part of the article will be published next week

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