Home » Arts & Culture » Africa Comes to the Gallery

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe will present the Folk Art Exhibition which will comprise of folktales and myths on July 9. This exhibition will comprise works from the Ivory Coast, Tanzania and Ghana among others, which were recently acquired through a donation to the gallery by one of the late art collectors.

This exhibition presents some of the unusual items in an exploration of this unsung art form.

It captures the peculiarities and creative brilliance of folk art today as a reflection of the true ethos of mankind. The subject of this exhibition is an integral part of everyone’s life.

“Folk Art is a forum for social encounters or commentary,” said the curator for the show and the conservation and collections manager for the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Lilian Chaonwa.

“It reveals our day-to-day lives, stages of life and the practices in the societies. It is a representative of our cultural identity and heritage.”

The items to be displayed in this exhibition are from the National Gallery’s Permanent Collection, Konde Sculptures and Tinga-Tinga sculptures.

The Permanent Collection began as a collection of specifically different media such as wood, clay and cloth among others. What emerged though was a sort of fantastical collection of work that bore innate and curious stories, not only of their acquisition, but also more interestingly in their form.

Some of the works to be presented come from artistic icons like Crispen Matekenya with his “Musicians and Dancers”, Fanizani Akuda’s “Two People Carrying a Lizard”, Joseph Muli’s “Owl Bird” and Leocadia Ndandarika’s “Figure of Man” among others.

These symbolic pieces on display fulfil the notion that art, like religion should be a school of self-transcendence, “Witch and Her Mate” by Sylvester Mubayi is expanding individual awareness into cosmic awareness.

The Permanent Collection of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe comprises of 6 000 artworks of an eclectic nature embracing Zimbabwean, African contemporary works, English and European Old master artworks as well as traditional pieces representing diverse cultures.

The greatest part of the collection is that of contemporary Zimbabwean artists which was collected during annual exhibitions.

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s sculpture garden boast of some chosen pieces which reveal that the institution has stood the test of time. These elegant pieces which are displayed in the sculpture garden were intelligently intermingled with the beauty of nature.

Some of these sculptures which form part of the Gallery Permanent Collection have been acquired as early as 1957 when the gallery was opened.

The collection has been amassed over the years of the gallery’s existence through purchases and donations.

Significant donations were made by Sir Stephen Courtauld and Col R. H. Whitwell who donated a bulk of the Old master European collection. Many of the traditional artworks were purchased by the gallery’s first director Frank McEwen when he travelled on several occasions to the West and Central African region while preparing for the first International Congress of African Art held in 1962.

McEwen also travelled to Europe and other parts of the world on buying missions. The other works were purchased or donated to the gallery during annual art exhibitions since 1957.

The tradition of folk art continues to this day with artists and craftsmen still creating works.

The small village or mobile works of Dexter Nyamaishe are a successful mix of craftsmanship, engineering and solid and enduring storytelling. Figures that depict characters from folklore, such as sculptures and paintings may be considered to be folklore artefacts, depending on how they are used.

Folk art is usually assumed to be anonymous, expressive of a whole culture rather than one person’s intention and design.

It includes, among other things, object, tales, music, dance, legends, oral history, proverbs, jokes, beliefs and customs within a particular culture.

It is a discipline concerned with revealing the interrelationship of different cultural expressions.

A considerable amount of folk art is unspecified and almost designed to provoke thoughts. Some items in this exhibition seem to provoke discussions or raise questions about the nature and limits of folk art and its contributions to our daily lives.

Folk art concerns itself with the details of relationships based on cultural expression. Some elements are a base for legend and fantasy although nestled comfortably in a world of moral and societal values.

Folk tales, as those told by our elders are some of the most enduring tales in existence.

These tales attempt to discover the basis of our common humanity, the imperatives of our human and moral existence.

It is this attempt to discover the basis of our common humanity, the necessities of our human existence, which put folklore at the centre of humanistic study, a reflection of our society, a mirror in which we see ourselves and offer others a chance to try and get to know us better.

Source : The Herald

Archives