Home » Arts & Culture » Exhibitions to Interogate Zimbabwean Identity

The National Gallery of Zimbabwe will be hosting three exhibitions which will coincide with the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA), running from the of April 28 to May 3 2015. These are the Born Free: A Whole New Mind Exhibition, the Prominent Personalities: Portraits of Zimbabwe Exhibition and the Design Show: The Traditional Kitchen Exhibition.

The Born Free: A Whole New Mind Exhibition curated by Mr. Raphael Chikukwa the Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe was officially opened at the Gallery on the 16th of April. The Prominent Personalities: Portraits of Zimbabwe Exhibition co-curated by Mrs Doreen Sibanda, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Executive Director and Mr Raphael Chikukwa was officially opened on the 23rd of April. The Design Show: The Traditional Kitchen Exhibition is set to open on the 30th of April, co-curated by Mrs Doreen Sibanda and Saki Mafundikwa, the Director of Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts.

The Born Free: A Whole New Mind exhibition gives a platform to artists born after 1980 to interrogate the hopes, frustrations, and social views of their generation. Thirty-five years of Independence is a meaningful celebration and it reminds us of Zimbabwe’s journey after Independence. Those who experienced the struggle for Independence understand what the country went through to attain it. The show is sponsored by Savanna Tobacco.

This exhibition gives a voice to those born after the jubilation of an Independent Zimbabwe. These young artists engage in their own realities from the 1980s to the present day. Hearing echoes from the older generation of artists has been exciting but one must not forget that the creative muse finds inspiration in the day-to-day struggle they encounter. Born Free: A Whole New Mind exhibition provides the form of inspiration to solutions through their work.

Thomas Masangwale’s Ghetto Yut, Munyaradzi Mugorosa’s Mazvake Mazvake and Kudakwashe Dongo’s Monopoly all point to the fluid nature of their respective societies. Nancy Mteki’s Ndangariro is movingly hopeful and explores how looking ‘inside’ can change perspectives. Franklyn Dzingai’s No Vision and Kudzanai Mavhuka’ Dying Wishes are haunting and quite graphic. The fragile quality of Thomas Masangwale’s Meditator speaks of the transitory nature of human relations and at the same time recognizes how society is an interwoven mixture that requires several individuals to continuously improve on past and present accomplishments.

The Prominent Personalities: Portraits of Zimbabwe exhibition is a celebration of people who have made significant contributions to Zimbabwean history in the past and the present. These portraits are artistic representations of the people featured in this exhibition and the idea is to display the likeness, personality and the moods of these individuals. This exhibition brings together portraits from spirit mediums, linguist, writers, military icons, business personalities, sports personalities, religious figures, women entrepreneurs, visual artists, film makers, politicians, actors and heroes among others. The show was sponsored by Schweppes and officially opened by Mr. C. Msipa, the Managing Director.

“At hand is our history, our identity and the recognition of those who have accomplished many a feat in business, entertainment, finance, law, science and the arts to name a few,” explained Msipa during the official opening of the show. “Having such a diverse assemblage of works helps to give exposure to many unsung portrait artists around Zimbabwe whom themselves have grown up with a knowledge and appreciation for many of the prominent figures and will by their hands go down in history as the first artists to be included in the National Portrait Gallery Collection.”

Speaking at the same occasion, Sibanda said: “There are so many people to celebrate and elevate and this is our small way through if the arts begin to do so. We want our next generations to understand and honour all the people that work so hard to make this country as great as it is.”

The exhibition also considers how artists respond to portraiture while we celebrate our own achievements regardless of colour, gender and creed. According to history, the oldest portrait in the world comes from Czech Republic and it is believed to be 26, 000 years old. Africa also has some of the earliest surviving painted portraits of people and these portraits are from Egypt. In the past, we have seen exhibitions of portraits of black Victorians, portraits of African Americans all done by others, but today it is time to celebrate our own history achievements, sadness, heroines, and cultures. The artists behind all these portraits were the ‘other’ in the past and it is a great thing when we celebrate who we are and what we have done to inspire generations to come.

The idea of the Design Show: The Traditional Kitchen Exhibition is to move the concept of design beyond mere craft items and begin to interrogate the design that already exists with a view to introduce greater dynamism and competition in the sector. The Traditional Kitchen strives to find new directions in design by appreciating the iconic structure scattered across every traditional homestead in Zimbabwe the Kitchen. This structure holds a special place in many Zimbabwean lives on many fronts.

The kitchen serves as a utility fixture with g influences of design.

The Traditional Kitchen is important in the Zimbabwean context. This is where food is prepared and consumed and serves as the meeting place for the family. Some of the contemporary designers that will showcase their work against the backdrop of the traditional kitchen are Hayhill Weavers’ textiles, Sabina Mutsvati clothes, Joseph Munemo furniture and ceramics by Nyari Gurupira, fashion designer Ska Sebata and Marjorie Wallace amongst others. The show will be buttressed with stunning images of traditional kitchens from ZIVA Director and co-curator, Saki Mafundikwa and Craig Wylie, photographer for the forthcoming publication by Gill Atherstone, Beyond Language: Symbolism and Meaning in Zimbabwe. This show is sponsored by e-Learning Solutions.

Source : The Herald

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