The National Gallery of Zimbabwe presents the second edition of the reintroduced annual show the Zimbabwe Annual Exhibition under the theme Mharidzo.
Mharidzo seeks to interrogate the role of the artist in questioning the religious fervor that has played a significant part in shaping our society today. It also seeks to give the artist a platform to hold forth on issues that are close to their hearts nekuparidza.
This exhibition explores the rites of passage for Zimbabwean contemporary art as well as showcase original work produced in the time period specified. Mharidzo seeks to provide an opportunity for resident Zimbabwean artists to tell their story using different mediums of sculpture, painting, photography, new media and installation.
The National Gallery of Zimbabwe has always emphasized on encouraging artists to produce their best work which in turn saw artists showcasing creative and original work. It is a platform for Zimbabweans artists to show their work. National Gallery of Zimbabwe strives to select the finest possible works of visual art which spring from the fertile culture of the region and showcase them regionally and internationally. In this respect art played the role of not just cataloging the history of the country but to take on an ambassadorial role. This has been seen through the staging of the Zimbabwe Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and many other shows that have been taking place at the gallery for many years.
Our public and private spaces are saturated by the collective consciousness of stories of old and new catastrophes. We have a wide range of predicament genres. While some choose to fixate on these calamities, the artists have chosen to channel the mishaps they have faced and dealt with into their artwork, and it is remarkable.
The Zimbabwean artist has been forced by circumstance to abandon the traditional materials used in the creation of artwork to use found objects and devise new avenues of expression. Zimbabwean artists have demonstrated that they will not give up their creative spirit and are skilled artisans who absorb tradition and whose skills are grounded in a larger framework of participation. This is an artist who takes human imagination and creativity seriously and is the metaphoric preacher. On this note the National Gallery of Zimbabwe wants to thank the participating artists for responding to the call.
These works in this exhibition show how experiences can be reworked, playing upon the desires engendered by our present circumstances: desires to escape, to heal, to question and reinvent. The artists allow us to look beyond the present reality, and remind us that whatever we are feeling, and whatever we fear, is a shared consciousness.
Mharidzo is more than a conversation; it is an exhortation to critically look at the way we now worship. Some of the work speaks calmly in conversational if oratorical prose, some up the tempo speaking excitedly and the others speak on an emotional peak in which the visual speech becomes tonal and merges with the emotions of the audience.
These works engage us at ground level and we are able to relate as they reflect the individual struggle with the burdens that evoke the feelings of the collective. We can only grow through these creative people whose dreams keep getting bigger and better.
Lovemore Kambudzi’s Lunar Park which won the first prize encourages families to spend quality time together. Anthony Bumhira’s Kuna Baba Kune Dzimba Dzakawanda is a visual interpretation of John 14:2. Danisile Ncube’s Bondage is a warning against wickedness, how people are living on the precipice ready to self-destruct. Masangwale’s Mharidzo speaks of the need to be identified by our culture which is echoed by Option Nyahunzvi’s Vanhasi Vakangamwa Vadzimu Vavo which is a warning against copying others, against cultural appropriation.
These are just a few of the powerful creations submitted this year by every type of mind for the valiant selection committee. The astounding progress the artists have made is a reflection of the wonderfully rich and varied culture of the art that is the trademark of Zimbabwe and that which the National Gallery of Zimbabwe stands for.