Zvavahera’s artwork fetches US$280 000 in New York
Zimbabwean visual artist Portia Zvavahera’s artwork was sold at US$280 000 at the popular Sothebys Auction House in New York City.
The artwork dubbed “Vese Vakandibata” (They all gave me strength) was auctioned recently after being put on bid at an estimated US$150 000.
It was bought on the higher bid by Lucius Elliot from Contemporary Art in New York.
The video of the auction went viral on social media, with locals applauding Zvavahera for the great work and putting Zimbabwe on the map.
Commenting on the latest development, National Art Gallery executive director Raphael Chikukwa said Zvavahera should be celebrated for working hard and was a good example to other artists.
“This is important for the Zimbabwean art scene as we continue to make in-roads into the international art market,” he said. “As National Gallery of Zimbabwe, we are proud of our own artists whose footprints came from the formerly BAT Workshop studios, now National Gallery of Zimbabwe School of Visual Arts and Design.”
Chikukwa said Zvavahera took art as a business, an example that should be emulated by other artists.
“Her rise into the art market needs the local banks, insurance companies and those with money not to miss out on art as an alternative area of investment,” he said.
“The locals should ask themselves why our art is being collected by outsiders. Its value as an alternative asset is what we need to focus on now. We have to ask why there are many Western art collectors and financial institutions involved.
“This is the time for us to rethink our investments and think about investing in art,” he explained.
Chikukwa said Zvavahera should take time to educate locals to buy Zimbabwean art.
“The international art market is ready for African art and as a platform for art, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe will continue to introduce artists to the Venice Biennial every two years,” he said.
“As National Gallery of Zimbabwe, we are proud of Portia as she was in the second group that represented Zimbabwe at the Venice Biennial in 2013. Today we are here.”
Zvavahera has been doing well on the international scene of lare, with his 2019 painting “Rising From the Unkown” selling for US$212 383 at Phillips London in 2020.
In 2010, she had a solo exhibition at the National Art Gallery in Harare and, in 2013, she was one of five artists selected to represent Zimbabwe at the 55th Venice Biennale.
In 2017, Zvavahera held a solo exhibition at Marc Foxx Gallery in Los Angeles.
She was born in Juru, Murehwa and studied at the BAT Visual Arts Studio, National Gallery of Zimbabwe. She earned a qualification in fine arts from Harare Polytechnic in 2006.