BY NYADZOMBE NYAMPENZA
THE local visual arts sector has shown resilience during another difficult year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amid the pandemic, Zimbabwean art continued to expand its global reach through local artists and practitioners from the Diaspora.
The pandemic, however, forced a provincial perspective that served to reinvigorate the local artistic ecology.
Individuals and institutions have rediscovered the importance of collaborating without bowing to the outside world.
Zimbabwe National Gallery (Harare)
For its Zim @ 41 exhibition, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (NGZ) has released works from its permanent collection purchased after independence in 1980.
Individuals and businesses hold many works of art by successful Zimbabwean artists out of public view in private collections.
The commemorative exhibition, which later moved to the National Gallery in Bulawayo, offered the public a rare opportunity to take an interest in some of the country’s greatest masterpieces in various media.
This included Tapfuma Gutsa’s Woman of Society, who can be considered Zimbabwe’s own Mona Lisa. The exhibition was also an opportunity to reflect on the growth of contemporary art in Zimbabwe.
National Gallery in Bulawayo
While NGZ Harare is surrounded by a host of other players, the Bulawayo audience has fewer options. NGZ in Bulawayo, however, requisitioned its region with an impressive range of exhibits which included Talent Kapadza in Rococo, a Russia-Zimbabwe photographic exhibition, a collaboration of South African and Zimbabwean artists to Illizwe Nyika Nation, Uhambo student exhibition and group exhibitions Metamorphosis and Peripheral chronicles.
National Gallery in Mutare
Although the National Gallery of Mutare has scaled back its operations, it has managed to host the traveling digital exhibition on the theme Power play. Other exhibitions coincided with Culture Week and Heroes Day.
Although its route did not match the size and reach of its sister institutions in Harare and Bulawayo, NGZ in Mutare had wide reach with the public as it also served as an event venue for photo ops, filming video and social events such as weddings, picnics and birthdays.
Harare First Floor Gallery
Since expanding the playing field by opening another gallery in Victoria Falls, the First Floor Gallery Harare has maintained its high regard and priority for the local public.
First Floor Gallery Victoria Falls had a busy schedule as it hosted several exhibitions including that of Helen Teede Mugwort, Shamilla Aasha Breathing time, Zanele Mutema and Miriro Mwandiambira Vacancy, and Xanthe Somer A vocabulary for ghosts.
On the other hand, the solid line-up of the First Floor Gallery Harare featured Amanda Mushate. Nguva Ine Muridzi, Pebo Fatso Mokoena’s Neoclassical taste matrix and Gresham Tapiwa Nyaude Gray spaces.
Delta Gallery has maintained its relevance as a commercial hub for local artists with its last exhibition of the year being Freedom.
The gallery run by the board of directors chaired by artist Greg Shaw following the passing of co-founders Helen Lieros and Derek Huggins, who died a week apart in July this year, has stayed the course in a dignified manner. ‘a tribute to the long-standing commitment of the deceased. .
Artillery Gallery, which opened the year with an exhibition titled Preview in February, closed the year by hosting works shortlisted for artHarare Africa First Art Prize.
The exhibition completed the artHarare Art online fair for its second year in a row since its inception a year ago.
The wide-asleep Tsoko Gallery woke up from its hibernation to host a pop-up Tarra Wallace exhibition titled A close up view of a cloud, which was organized by Merilyn Mushakwe.
The Village Unhu collective kept spirits alive through randomly named exhibitions Coin Flip Series. Personal exhibitions started with Evans Mutenga Zvimhingamupini which was followed by that of Nyashadzashe Marovatsanga Shrink wrapping. Kenmore maruta Ghetto flowers was the last exhibition at the gallery.
Alliance Française de Harare
The Alliance Française de Harare, which has always supported local artists, continued its alliance with local visual arts by hosting the group exhibition Chizvino-Zvino with Victor Nyakauru, Grace Nyahangare, Clive Mukucha and Tawanda Takura.
The exhibition was mounted in the Old Mutual Theater which opened in 2013 with a live painting exhibition showcasing the crafts of Epheas Maposa, Misheck Masamvu, Gareth Nyandoro and Lovemore Kambudzi.
Some individual efforts stood out, such as the photographic exhibition by Martina Gruber entitled The end of a season, a collaboration of Sky Salanje and Tatenda Guzha Zvakadzama Zvirimumoyo, and Shalom Kufakwatenzi’s performance titled Respect my existence which has been featured in various places.
Self-help has established an encouraging trend that promises more activity over the coming year.
“We look forward to 2022 as we return to the global arts platform, the Venice Biennale with the Zimbabwe pavilion. “
“We are also looking forward to launching the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Victoria Falls, as well as the renovation of the Tengenenge Community Art Center and the building of a formidable team of curators. “
Fadzai Muchemwa (writer, researcher and curator)
“It was an interesting year. Plans were made for the physical interactions, which then had to change. There were some interesting online exhibits like PercyNal by Post Studio Creative and Nothando Chiwanga. I hope that 2022 will be accompanied by a return to normalcy. Hope more places open up for engagement. ”
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