The Sunday Mail
THE “African Women’s Lockdown Dhuku Exhibition”, a catalogue of paintings and sketches by Professor Francisca Mutapi, has inspired discussions on African fashion and art in the Diaspora.
Mutapi is a Zimbabwean-born practising visual artist who is based in Scotland.
Some of her sketches are now listed by the prestigious South Africa-based African Women Interpretation Centre’s online gallery.
The centre’s mission is to recognise and honour African women through an African women’s museum and art gallery.
Apart from getting widespread international recognition, the paintings and sketches also won Mutapi, who has been painting and exhibiting works for over 30 years in Africa and the United Kingdom, a year-long art bursary at the New Art School in Scotland.
The artist, who is also a medical professor in global health infection and immunity, chronicled how the exhibition came into being.
“During the lockdown, many people could not get to their hairdressers and my African friends and family decided to showcase the different ways that headscarves (dhuku in Shona) are worn.”
She has featured in many group and solo exhibitions at many venues around the world, including the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.
Her works are on display in private collections all over the world, with commissions having been undertaken for clients in Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom.
Her artwork has been used for posters and book covers.
Some of the proceeds from the art sales are used to help young Zimbabweans reach their education and performance dreams.
Her foundation, Mwenje Wedu, has, in the past, donated to athlete Ngoni Makusha, who went on to represent the country at the Olympics.
Mutapi spoke about her source of inspiration.
“I call both Europe and Africa home and the subjects of my work come from these two continents.
“Africa inspires vibrant colours whilst Europe gives exciting light patterns to my paintings.
“I am particularly interested in pattern and form in nature and express these through figurative, naive and abstract painting,” she said.
Due to Covid-19 regulations, her latest paintings and sketches are yet to be shown in a physical art gallery.
She believes that Zimbabweans in particular and Africans in general appreciate art.
“I think Zimbabweans and Africans of all socio-economic and cultural groups really do appreciate art in all its various forms.
“We have such a richness of art forms and appreciate it both in everyday and decorative forms.
“So, apart from paintings, pictures and sculptures, we see it in functional objects such as carved stools and decorated cooking utensils, clay pots painted in beautiful geometric shapes and even patterns painted on the walls of rural homes.”
According to Mutapi, the global art market is also appreciating African art, with a growth in international art shows and an increase in the number of galleries showcasing African art and talent.