The Sunday Mail
“MY work is a reflection of some of the various occurrences that have arisen emotionally within me, around me, socially and politically. My aim is to use common forms, which most people from various audiences are familiar with.”
The above words were uttered by Cosmas Shiridzinomwa, one of the artistes representing Zimbabwe at the 58th Venice Biennale in Italy.
His body of work in Venice is a series of paintings with a rich and balanced symphony of colour, marks, texture and dynamic design.
The Zimbabwean Pavilion at the Biennale is an opportunity to help inform the world about the complex and multiple African narratives.
Shiridzinonwa’s painting series, titled “Fruitless Discussions”, point the audience to the various realities taking place around the globe, for example fruitless discussions between global leaders.
Other artists responsible for giving life to the Zimbabwean Pavilion at the spectacle include Georgina Maxim, Neville Starling and Kudzanai Violet Hwami.
Dubbed the Olympics of art, this epic showpiece kicked off in May and will run till in November.
The pavilion’s theme is derived from Herbert Chitepo’s epic poem — “Shoko Risina Musoro”.
The artists are using different mediums to come up with pieces that explore the pan-Africanist’s work.
“Chitepo was nipped in the bud before seeing the emancipation of his people, but his name and thinking will live forever as we celebrate it through the Zimbabwe Pavilion exhibition at the La Biennale di Venezia 2019,” said the exhibition’s curator, Raphael Chikukwa.
He added that the Zimbabwean space at this fete speaks to the current human experiences from across the globe, through the voices of the participating artistes.
“The 5th Zimbabwe Pavilion at the La Biennale di Venezia 2019 gives these artists an opportunity to push their practices beyond the boundaries of Zimbabwe and Africa,” said Chikukwa.
Georgina Maxim, whose work revolves around an exploration of feminine arts – including embroidery, knitting, applique, patchwork, stitch work and weaving — makes use of her talent to explore the characteristics and mannerisms of Mai Mugari, the central female voice in Chitepo’s poem.
Hwami, the youngest artist in the group, works with photographic images. She deconstructs and reconstructs them into new found images or references.
Her choice of work in Venice is based on archival images of nineteenth century Zimbabwean nationalists who were tortured and executed for their resistance to colonialism.
On the other hand, Sterling’s photographic work views land as a playground of memory, loss and rebirth, thereby forming the central pivot of his presentation and the Biennale.
His large experimental format of photographic images are landscapes, which speak about the passing of time, the fading of memory, degradation of material and the intangible loss as a result.
Each piece in the Zimbabwe Pavilion exhibition tells the viewer something metaphorical, banal and mystical about the artist and their work.