At The Gallery
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo’s assistant and exhibition curator, Clifford Zulu, won an award for the Outstanding Exhibition, entitled “Crossing the Bridge” which he co-curated with Israel Israel in 2014, at the National Arts Merit Awards held recently.
The winning exhibition which was co–curated by Clifford Zulu and Israel Israel entitled “Crossing the Bridge”,served as a means to provide the discerning viewer with a template to search for the meaning of life, purpose and truth. It occupied a very important place in the artistic quarters of the arts sector.
“Crossing the Bridge” was comprised of the works of two artists, Israel Israel and Forbes Mushipe. It was an insightful look at the trivial features of life through a body of work that is in metal, bones and wood.
The two artists investigated the world around them using metal, wood and bone. The use of metal, bones and wood adds energy to the static forms as they are void of any semblance of motion or dynamism.
Israel Israel, a sculptor from Bulawayo, and Forbes Mushipe a mixed media artist from Gweru, collaborated in mounting the exhibition which was first opened in Bulawayo in August 2014, but later on travelled to Harare in October the same year.
Israel presented the concept of jackets in its contemporary denotation while Mushipe’s work was a spiritual journey exploring African folk tales.
Mushipe pushes for the spiritual journey through the African tales within the social, religious and cultural context.
Using bone, metal and wood sometimes mixing the materials stimulates Mushipe’s works, which reflects his on-going fascination with spiritual energy, patterns and shapes. Israel’s work focused equally on the mysterious and the invisible habits of humanity. The clothing style used by Israel counter-plays with several devices such as identity, power and fate.
Mushipe acted on fluid forms that seek out the metaphysical by way of merging the familiar bone, wood and metal.
“I feel very much humbled to be honoured and acknowledged by the NAMA and the spirit of curatorial collaboration by Israel Israel and I,” said Clifford Zulu.
“It is a wonderful and a great feeling for one’s work to be recognised. I was once nominated in 2012 for the Outstanding Exhibition by the NAMA, but this time I was not only nominated, but I won the award. It is my first time to win a NAMA award and I am delighted.”
He added that:
“I like collaborations in Zimbabwe. I also like highlighting the elements of curating exhibitions and this award was a confirmation of my curatorial role. My plans for the future are to continue collaborating around issues relevant to today’s living.”
Following that, Israel Israel’s artwork of a jacket hanging on a chair called “The absent father’s jacket” that was exhibited on “Crossing the Bridge” was acquired for the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Permanent Collection through the Friends of the Gallery. “The jacket” tells a story of a father who opted out of his child’s life and responsibilities only to emerge for re-engagement when the abandoned child is a grown up man and successful family man.
“Jackets” is the formidable theme Israel Israel persistently decided to tackle saying that humans are all souls housed in a jacket or perhaps in many jackets of many colours which can change the way according to the viewer. The successful staging of “Crossing the Bridge” through the careful application of metal, wood and bone done by Israel Israel and Clifford Zulu was well deserved.