Progress for an artist is moving on, breaking through imposed boundaries or market expectations.
A progressive visual artist must choose materials which allow him to say what he wants to say, by the stones, scrap metal, odd bits of glass, the rays of the sun, the light of the moon, the dessert sands, found objects, paints, canvas and boards.
He must manoeuvre and negotiate for the desired space to allow work to be created not simply made.
His social responsibility is to himself.
Over the few years of his rising career, fine art practitioner Wallen Mapondera has kept focused on his artistic work and environment to become where art is simply “what you do” rather than what you do for a living. A noticeable change in the young emerging voice’s work especially the development in style and imagination speaks volumes for his intentions to rise to the fullest.
His current thought provocative solo show titled “Social Zoometry” which commenced at Gallery Delta Foundation for Art and the Humanities on May 23, 2014 to run for a month has a variety of satiric and allegoric paintings, magnificent linear graphics and three dimensional work for the walls which investigate social norms and abuses through the socio-political symbolisms of animals.
Mapondera says the exhibition aims through the socio-political symbolisms of animals and their disposition, to explore human oligarchy and power structures in which power rests with a small number of people. He says he uses zoomorphic and anthropomorphic visual templates to present his case. According to Wallen: “These suggest human characteristics for animals or intimate things as well as relating to, or being a deity conceived of in animal form or with animal tributes.
“The benign power of animals to teach, question and affirm is explored in our daily relationships with them. African cultural psychology in relation to animals is also a dominant thread that weaves these ideas together”.
In one of his expressive paintings executed in acrylics on card titled “Friends for Sale”, two puppies dropping their heads in opposite directions are pitifully hung like wet clothes by their necks on a washing line by old dirty yellow pegs. On the far right hand side a third yellow peg clips a white tag written “sold” suggesting that a third miserable puppy has gone to face an uncertain future. Symbolically one wonders why one would hang dry like clothes little ones of an animal which is considered to be man’s best friend. In another fascinating glass framed painting again in acrylics on paper titled “A Little Prayer” three broilers group together to an ancient yellowish telephone receiver hanging down touching the floor.
There is also a line of small perfect string drawings on paper.
The black threaded linear drawings are all represented by goats in various postures with ropes tied to their necks.
Of the amazing string drawings, one has a strong black patched back he-goat looking down upon a red enslaving rope on the ground that has fallen off its neck. Titled “Gotokoto Free” the goat does not seem to celebrate its freedom but rather wonders why and how it fell off. For his young career, the 29 year old Wallen Mapondera has been rewarded for his artistic creativity with no less than ten awards by various galleries and institutions which range from overall awards, awards of merit and second prize awards.
He only graduated from the National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s Visual Arts Studios in Harare in year 2007 but his dynamism is as good as any.