Defying dark clouds and distant thunder last Tuesday evening, art lovers and artists flocked to Gallery Delta for the Artists in the Stream VIII, the Annual Young Artists’ Exhibition.
The event, which this year was opened by artist and educationist Greg Shaw, showcases promising young Zimbabwean artists who are destined to promote the visual arts at home, regionally and globally.
Among the artists represented was Tawanda Takura. Before realising his ambition to become an artist, Takura was an accomplished shoemaker in Chitungwiza.
The popular boots, sandals and moccasins he designed and made for his customers became the inspiration for a unique form of art. Worn out soles, leather, plastic, fabrics, tongues and welts are harvested from old shoes, combined with shards of metal and stitched together to create unsettlingly lifelike entities. Police Dog, with its slathering jaws, metal fangs and blood red eyes is the focal point in the first exhibition space at Gallery Delta.
Poly Cat and Melancholic Girl are unusual multimedia sculptures created from face bricks and cement, by Tafadzwa Marekera, who lives in the vicinity of the Snake Park. Metal claws unsheathed, twine tail erect, Poly Cat seems ready for action, in spite of the friendly, enquiring look on her face. Melancholic Girl, with her brick bodice and metal carry on suitcase was one of the first exhibits to sell.
Paidamoyo Sajeni, who was born in 1992, weaves his identity with the dichotomy between good and evil into a huge canvas entitled Angels and Demons. An evil beast, red in tooth and claw, commands the viewer’s attention, while a dusky angel with a white halo peeps out uncertainly from behind a woman wearing an isicholo (beaded Zulu headdress worn by a married woman).
Interspersing oil, acrylic and gouache paint in striking colours with fragments of runic alphabet, Sajeni seeks a balance between the voices of his ancestors who journeyed north from Limpopo province in South Africa, and the here and now of the country of his birth, Zimbabwe.
Opening the exhibition, Greg Shaw recalled his own contribution to the Young Artists’ Exhibition in 1992. He stressed the importance of acknowledging and supporting young artists, and of understanding their stories, contexts and histories.
Commenting on the importance of the annual Artists in the Stream exhibition as a showcase for the next generation of creativity in Zimbabwe, Shaw spoke about Gallery Delta’s role in promoting the arts.
“Gallery Delta”, he said, “has nurtured artists through the decades. Many of these have exhibited in Berlin, New York, Venice, Hong Kong and Sydney.”
After presenting art books donated by well-known artist Kate Raath to a number of prize winners, Shaw reminded the gathering of the important role artists play in expressing Zimbabwean culture and a national consciousness.
Space does not permit mention of all the outstanding artists, but a variety of art works were sold. Some were bought by parents as gifts for their home sick children in the diaspora, some pieces went to international collectors, while others were snapped up by local art lovers.
The exhibition runs until mid-march.
Visit the Young Artists exhibition at Gallery Delta, Robert Paul’s old House, 110 Livingstone Avenue. Tel: 263(4)792135