Home » Arts & Culture » Gallery Relaunches Major Exhibition

The lengthily and eagerly awaited Zimbabwe’s major annual open call visual art exhibition finally graced the recently renovated National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare much to the delight of many artists. The most delighted are especially the young and upcoming who had never experienced such a platform. Rebranded and renamed Zimbabwe Annual Exhibition, formerly the prestigious “Zimbabwe Heritage” annual exhibitions of the mid 1980s and better part of the 1990s before manifesting into the first “Mobil Zimbabwe Heritage Biennale” in 1998 to 2002 then to “The Harare Biennale 2004” before vanishing from the face of the earth due to lack of sponsorship.

Now in its new humble beginning with only four awards of humble prizes, it is a tangible step ahead that curbs the desperate lack of open platform that practitioners have been enduring in the country for far too long.

Before disappearing, the “Zimbabwe Heritage” annual art exhibitions of yesteryear used to shift mountains, bring down the rains, regenerate forests and even made elephants pronk.

They provided all the nutrients necessary for nurturing the country’s art landscape.

Artists annually had something tangible to look forward to.

They created wonders with various art materials at their discretion to be in the most prestigious shows there were on the land.

Artists would rub shoulders, vigorously and proudly shake hands with the President of the Republic as he would hand over awards rewarded to artists for their exceptional creativity.

More than half of the exhibitions’ work used to sell within hours of the openings and by the end of their three months durations about eighty percent of the work would have realised pleasant business transactions.

Sadly the great moments in time took a nose dive when the show disappeared from the radar plunging artists into a deprivation depression.

The starry “Mobil Zimbabwe Heritage Biennale” of 1998 sponsored by Mobil the fuel giant had a five star award, the most prestigious award there was in the country in the visual arts for consistent artistic excellence and outstanding dedication to the development of contemporary visual artists of Zimbabwe called “The President’s Award of Honour”.

Other categorical awards were organized as the four starred “The Overall Award of Distinction” in painting, followed by its two- three starred “Awards of Merit”.

Sculpture would have the same and special attention was given to “Weld art” where BOC Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd) sponsored the same awards as other categories but with an extra award of merit called the “Artist of Promise’. Textiles category had a single “Award of Merit” whilst Lever Brothers (Pvt) Ltd) donated to women artists two “Awards of Merit”.

Another ‘Young artist of promise, the Cyril Rogers Award of Distinction was donated by Mrs B Rogers and other two “Awards of Merit” were donated by Longman Zimbabwe.

“The Beelden op de Berg Awards of Distinction” in commemoration of a Zimbabwean exhibition sent to the Royal Netherlands in 1989 was donated by the Beelden op de Berg Foundation.

Four stars behind the starriest award were the “Highly Commended” awards which were rewarded to 12 artists in the categories of painting, graphics and sculpture as well as a single in ceramics.

In grand total, 44 fine art awards were issued in a single Zimbabwe Heritage exhibition.

There were several corporate sponsors who were interested in nurturing Zimbabwean contemporary art and all the country’s visual artists of various generations lived for the Zimbabwe Heritage.

That is how the Zimbabwe Heritage exhibitions will forever be the phenomenal shows of referral.

Without taking anything away from the currently showing new Zimbabwe Annual Exhibition recently opened by the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Andrew Langa, introduced by the Principal director of the same ministry Reverend Paul Damasani as “Minister of Arts and other things” jokingly to suit the occasion has remarkable artworks dominated by the creativity of the new generation of artists.

As it has been for the last decade or so, the innovative use of discarded found objects and other cheap materials due to harsh economic constraints especially in three dimensional categories seem to have glued its domination with outstanding work.

This was the scenario as the overall award of the show was given to young and upcoming Tawanda Takura for his astounding “Unfinished Thoughts” in remains of various degenerated shoe cut-ups covering the wires constructing a huge headless crawling human figure.

The second prize went to middle career artist Julius Mushambadope for his painting titled “Kumuzi” and the third was given to Richard Mudariki for his semi abstract painting called “8 O’clock News” whilst a “Young artist of promise” award was rewarded to Johnson Zuze for his mixed media sculptures.

It all looks promising as the gallery was filled with a huge audience who included the few sponsors of the show and other potential ones who may have felt encouraged by the show and the colourful official ceremony that day.

Source : The Herald

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