Home » General » A Revisit of Zimbabwe Pavilion

Last year Zimbabwe’s artists went to Venice, Italy for the 55th Venice Biennale.

As the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, we are tasked and made responsible for Zimbabwe’s representation of Zimbabwean contemporary art both locally and internationally by the Ministry of Sport, Arts sand Culture.

The second edition of Zimbabwe Pavilion’s curatorial theme identified for the exhibition was entitled “DUDZIRO: Interrogating the Visions of Religious Beliefs” and the curator’s research into the impact of religion on the society. Ths theme related to the bigger Venice Biennale 2013 theme “The Encyclopedic Palace” developed by the curator, Massimiliano Gioni.

He said, “The Encyclopedic Palace is an imaginary museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge, bridging together the greatest discoveries of the human race from the wheel to the satellite.”

The theme spoke to an idea of imagination that the artists help the people to interrogate.

The Zimbabwe Pavilion Commissioner, Doreen Sibanda and the curator, Raphael Chikukwa believed that the return of the religious phenomena in Zimbabwe was unique and that its exploration brought an interesting contribution to the bigger exhibition. As such five artists were identified from amongst current crop of artist’s practice as their work speaks eloquently to this concept.

The aim of the Zimbabwe Pavilion is to showcase to the world the depth and vibrancy of the visual art scene Zimbabweans are involved in as well as taking the opportunity to expose our country men and women who may not otherwise have the opportunity, to the international art market.

The Venice Biennale is the pinnacle of the visual art world and as a National Institution it is important that we select a diverse team that is representative of a nation, while at the same time inspires art practise within the country and the continent as a whole. Some of the things we looked for:

Artistic merit of body of work.

g conceptual skills with innovative and effective approaches demonstrated in other creative projects.

Ability to design artwork that is sensitive to social, environmental, historical, andor other relevant contexts related to the curatorial theme.

Ability to translate artistic concepts into materials that are appropriate for public space.

Potential for work to enrich and diversify the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Permanent Collection.

Ability and willingness to collaborate with the chief curator in understanding the particular curatorial theme of the Biennale.

Appropriateness of qualifications for the project and.

Effective communication and organisational skills.

As a result the selection process has led the team to select five diverse artists who represent the dynamic nature of Zimbabwe and more importantly demonstrate the vibrancy of the visual art scene from a Zimbabwean perspective within Zimbabwe as well as the rest of Africa. The artists selected for the 2013 Zimbabwe Pavilion in Venice were Voti Thebe, Rashid Jogee, Virginia Chihota, Portia Zvavahera and Michele Mathison.

The two veteran artists Rashid Jogee, an IndianZimbabwean and Voti Thebe, from Matabeleland, were complemented by the two young female artists Virginia Chihota and Portia Zvavahera and a young Zimbabwean sculptor Michele Mathison, currently working in South Africa.

The theme

“Dudziro – Interogating the visions of religious beliefs”.

The Zimbabwean Pavilion in Venice created a platform for dialogue on the impact of religion and the spiritual realm on contemporary Zimbabwean art today while religious and cultural issues have remained questionable globally and locally, in this exhibition, the artists see themselves as prophets that can foresee and impact the future (Shona – Raramo Ramagwana). Dudziro is part of the aesthetic excess baggage of a journey, part of our historical dynamic. This artistic concept also seeks to interrogate our historical past that we cannot afford to ignore.

Dudziro challenged constructs of these issues while revisiting the past, present and future. It questions, what does your past mean to you and how is it perceived by others today? How does the present affect your past and in what way does it shape your future? Our historical narratives are presented through the voices of five artists in diverse media that represent a range of views, reflecting their diverse practices and backgrounds and raising questions about how they view religion and its current role in society.

Artist Profiles

Virginia Chihota

Born in 1983 in Chitungwiza, Virginia completed her primary and secondary education at Chitungwiza schools. She studied art and achieved the following qualifications: 2004-5 Certificate in Fine Art – National Gallery of Zimbabwe Visual Art Studios 2005-6 Diploma in Fine Art – National Art Gallery Studios 2008 Residency,threemonths – Greatmore Studios, Cape Town Awards 2004. Virginia recently exhibited at the Lyon Biennale in France. She has also taken part in a number of exhibitions at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe curated by Raphael Chikukwa. Virginia is a hard-working and most innovative artist who never run out of ideas. She has won several international accolades and has work housed in the Deutsche Bank Collection.

Portia Zvavahera

Born in 1985, at Juru Growth Point, Zvavahera attended Oriel Girls’ High School in Harare, where she completed her secondary education. She proceeded to the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Visual Arts Studio between 2003 and 2005. She furthered her training at the Harare Polytechnic where she majored in printmaking and painting and earned a first-class Visual Art Diploma in 2006. In 2010, Zvavahera was invited to a tri-lingual printmaking workshop at Greatmore Art Studios in Cape Town, South Africa.

She also attended History Matter workshop at the Centre for Contemporary Art Lagos, (Nigeria 2012). Portia recently won the FNB Arts Award 2014 and is now working with Michael Stevenson Gallery in South Africa. Zvavahera can be classified as a neo-afro expressionist artist, who is rapidly gaining an international reputation for her art in Austria, Germany, England, France, Spain, Mexico, Sweden, USA, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Her works are laden with meaning and gestures that cover the themes of parental love, human isolation, historical injustices and indigenous religions. Zvavahera has received numerous awards testifying her artistic prowess such as the 2014 FNB Art Prize

Voti Thebe

Voti Thebe is a painter, graphic artist, sculptor and a textilist. Born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe in 1953, He studied art at Mzilikazi Art and Craft Centre in Bulawayo from 1970 to 1973. Voti has contributed immensely to raising the profile of contemporary Zimbabwean art. He has participated in many exhibitions both in Zimbabwe and outside the country these include “Visions of Zimbabwe” (Manchester Art Gallery 2004). In recognition of his outstanding achievements in the arts, Voti has won several awards that include: President’s Award of Distinction a NAMA award for Outstanding Achievement in the Visual Arts (2003) and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Award of Merit among others. He has also conducted several workshops both locally and abroad with the Pachipamwe International Workshop featuring prominently on his profile. He has also done commissions for Bulawayo Municipality Gardens, Inyathi Mission and Cyrene Mission. Currently, Voti is working as regional director at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. He is also a member of Visual Arts Association of Bulawayo.

Rashid Jogee

Rashid is a Zimbabwean painter and sculptor born in Bulawayo on the 1951 of Indian parentage. He went to Founders High school in Bulawayo where he completed his Aanced levels in 1970 showing strengths in art. Thereafter Rashid worked as a student teacher at the Mzilikazi arts and craft centre in 1972. In pursuit of artistic excellence, Rashid studied Applied Art and Design at the Bulawayo Technical College from 1980 to 1982.

Rashid is an acclaimed artist who has participated in several local and international exhibitions that include Zimbabwe Heritage (1992), “AFRICAKIL KUTA” in Finland (1993), and “Cacon Africa” in Munich Germany (2011). He has also participated in several local and international art workshops that include: all Pachipamwe Workshops and the Thapong International Workshop in Botswana.

Rashid has had several awards that include the Zimbabwe Heritage Award of Excellence (1992) and the Zimbabwe Award of Merit for Painting (1994).

Michele Mathison

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Michele’s vehicle of communication is sculpture. After completing his schooling, Michele decided to study art at the University of Cape Town majoring in Sculpture. Michele’s final year exhibition consisted of a range of sculptures all addressing the situation in Zimbabwe.

Michele’s work interrogates the changing social and economic landscape in Zimbabwean society through creating sculpture that is composed of familiar objects that identify with the Zimbabwean experience.

Source : The Herald