Nyandoro captures life on the streets
Dr Tony Monda Art Zone
A CHARMINGLY witty, yet satirically heightened, oeuvre of works on paper by Gareth Nyandoro lines the walls of Gallery Delta. This time around the artist’s humorous eye penetrates beneath the veneer of urban artifice and reveals the underbelly of Zimbabwe’s micro-economic enterprise. Representing almost 80 percent of our working society, SMEs and vendors have become a huge part of our society. “The Self-Employed, Unemployed” and rhythm of life on the margins of society is what constitutes Nyandoro’s body of art works and his vestigial narrative of this particular social order.
Figures and portraits of Zimbabwean people engaged in their everyday chores — hawking, soliciting or running menial errands, typify our urban people-scape.
These are people we walk by in the many streets of Harare, its environs and other satellite towns of Zimbabwe.
As a caricaturist of society and its tribulations, Nyandoro’s papier-colles and collages outline characters from street life, focussing attention uncomfortably on given social misaprops in a hilarious and satirical manner.
Works entitled in Zimbabwean street slang examine urban sub-cultures and speak volumes about the fringes of our society.
“Mbobobo”, “Bira reTonaz”, “Portrait of an Airtime Vendor”, “Mudhara Airtime”, “Lollipop Stars”, “Mutyira Hondo” look at suburban peculiarities in a vernacular idiom with a dose of street humour.
In a style which demonstrates his power of imagination, experiment and innovation, the artist’s growing technical and artistic sophistication has matured into an intensified propensity.
He analyses and reveals the character of his subjects and the state of commercial and industrial redundancy and unemployment in Zimbabwe.
His work has a sensitivity of composition and characterisation. His colour schemes are of great freshness; presenting a predominantly pop art palette of reds, yellows and blues, representative of present-day urbanity and fashion juxtaposed with the earth colours of Africa.
His meticulously cut and pasted papier colles strips that outline his characters are carefully fashioned like prismic jigsaw-puzzles.
Papiers colles is an unfamiliar art form in Zimbabwe with endless possibilities of expression and originality.
The term derives from the French word meaning “pasted paper”. It is a form of collage which is at times, incorporated into a painting or print work.
Originally a Chinese invention taken up as a pastime in the 10th century, the technique was later adopted by modern artists like Picasso, Braque and Matisse who literally turned it into a fine art in their later years.
The spell-binding anima of Nyandoro’s work relies as much on his excellent papiers colles and printmaking techniques as it does on his witty vision.
In his satirical series of vendors, his treatment and placing of single figures and faces in silhouetted cameos generate a sense of unusual and mysterious isolation.
Faces refulgent with an intense energy give his subjects assertive characteristics. He endows these common place people with a special dignity and an off-beat humour. His lively anecdotal style of paper-colles and printmaking will no doubt capture a permanent wider audience and collector base. His is a fascinating account of life on street corners, the verges, side-walks and stoeps of our socio-economic milieu.
Now aged 31, the consistently meritorious assemblage sculptor, painter, installation and performing artist has already amassed numerous accolades including a first prize in the “Peace Through Unity in Diversity” Competition and Exhibition (Gallery Delta, 2007); second prize for graphics in “The Land Competition Exhibition” (Gallery Delta, 2009); and a first prize of US$10 000 at the 2010 “Live and Direct” exhibition at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.
Nyandoro’s innovative techniques, vividness of colour and sensitive vision have established a unique style, and way of thinking which might shape the future of animation and manual graphic arts in Zimbabwe.
Born on February 16, 1982, the artist trained at Masvingo Polytechnic, Harare Polytechnic and Chinhoyi University of Technology. He has recently returned from a successful scholarship interview at the world famous Rijks Academy of Art in Holland.
His latest artistic offerings at Gallery Delta establish him as a formidable voice in the contemporary Zimbabwean art scene, an artist deemed intellectually, conceptually and technically savvy.
This enjoyable exhibition is exemplary of his technical dexterity, deadpan wit and conceptual visual acumen. It is a riveting artistic and social revelation.
Dr Tony Monda holds a PhD in Post-Modern Art Theory and a Doctorate in Business Administration( DBA) in Post-Colonial Art and Heritage Studies. He holds a Law and Art Diploma from Georgetown University, Washington, DC, and worked with WALA (Washington Area Lawyers Association). He also studied law and photography at the Corcoran School of Art, Washington, DC, USA. He is a practising artist, art critic, author, designer and corporate image consultant.