socially accumulative following for their young artists.
Since the gallery’s inception approximately two and a half years ago, they have introduced contemporary urban Zimbabwean artworks ranging from assemblages, painting, photography and video art to multi-ethnic audiences in Europe, Asia and parts of Southern Africa.
Most of the artists belonging to the First Floor Gallery live in Zimbabwe’s high-density Harare suburbs from Mabvuku to Mbare, Tafara, Highfield and Chitungwiza.
Most are former students from the BAT School of Arts, Harare Polytechnic and Peter Birch School of Art, who have found themselves creating art in an environment that does not necessarily appreciate art.
As such, the artists have taken it upon themselves to engage with society by producing art taken from their immediate socio-cultural milieu and bringing it back to society via interactive exhibitions staged at art fairs, nightclubs and other unconventional spaces for visual and performance art.
At last year’s Hifa, First Floor Gallery staged the exhibition “Vasikana Vedu” which brought together five different artists, namely Sabina Mutsvati, who works with installation and fashion; Mavis Tauzeni , a painter; Anne Mutema, who works with mixed media; Chido Nyabinde-Nyatsuro, a print-maker; and Varaidzo Gwede, a sculptor working with metal and wood; in a performance celebration which was staged at The Basement Nightclub.
First Floor artists were the only group of visual artists which took part in this year’s edition of Hifa. The artists include Wycliffe Mundopa, Mavis Tauzeni, Terrence Musekiwa and Moffat Takadiwa among a field of more than 30 emerging Zimbabwean talents like Kresia Mukwazhi, Franklin Dzingai, Nancy Mteki, Anne Zanele Mutema and Option Nyahunzvi.
In the shadows beyond the international political headlines about Zimbabwe and the challenges of gaining attention at home in a sector dominated by music-visual art continues to thrive, in society
The struggles for daily bread, keeping families together the urban frictions, which inspire these artists, create powerful expressions that elevate both them and us beyond these turmoil’s with an imperative towards a new reality and a better world.
Dr Tony Monda holds a PhD in Art Theory and Philosophy and a DBA (Doctorate of Business Administration) in Post-Colonial Heritage Studies. He is a writer, art critic, practising artist and corporate image consultant.