Feature: Exhibition brings together Zimbabwean art lovers for first time since pandemic


by Tafara Mugwara

HARARE, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- With the threat of the coronavirus waning and business returning to pre-pandemic normalcy, Gallery Delta in Zimbabwe on Saturday held its first exhibition opening since a coronavirus lockdown was imposed in March.

Themed "The Summer Exhibition: Signs Of The Times", the exhibition featured paintings, graphics, mixed media found objects and sculptures from a diverse group of artists.

One of the prominent exhibitors, Johnson Zuze, a visual artist who has showcased his artwork at Gallery Delta for more than a decade, expressed his joy for having opportunity to participate at the exhibition.

"As an artist I can say I am feeling great to be able to participate in this kind of event because platforms are very scarce, but at least Delta Gallery has managed to provide us space," Zuze told Xinhua.

Zuze's work is based on creating startling forms of art with discarded materials, drawing attention to relevant social issues affecting his community.

His prolific art has earned him multiple awards and international recognition.

Helen Lieros, Gallery Delta co-founder, said Zuze's artworks have been prominent at the gallery.

"Since he came, and from the initial stages, he was creative. He says very few words but it all comes out on his fingers, he's always got a comment to make, weather it is humor or something deep to do with the country, and he's just gone from progress to progress," she said.

Farai Mpfunya, Director of Culture Fund of Zimbabwe Trust, said it's been a difficult year for the arts industry.

"So therefore having people coming in these numbers today is a testimony that art survives and there are people who still think that it's important for us to meet and look at art as it talks back to us about life, about what it means to be human, about what it means to survive and about what it means for humanity to live beyond COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

Zimbabwe's visual arts industry has taken a massive beating from COVID-19.

Lockdowns and social distancing measures adopted to stem the spread of COVID-19 earlier this year made it impossible to hold exhibitions.

To counter the challenges brought by the pandemic, Gallery Delta had to rethink the models in which it presents artworks by launching digital initiatives to promote local artworks.

In addition, Gallery Delta also put an exhibition into the 1-54 Contemporary Art Fair at Somerset House in London which opened in early October.

While online exhibitions have helped sustain many artists during the pandemic, Takudzwa Guzha, a multimedia artist whose work deals with current issues said he prefers the open market concept.

"So the main problem is we want people to come to exhibitions, that's the main problem, now we are exhibiting online, we want people to attend these exhibitions," he said.

Lin Barrie, a fine artist, said art exhibitions help artists and the public to take a break from the coronavirus pandemic.

Barrie expresses her passion for the natural world, animals, landscapes and culture with her works of art in canvas or on handmade paper.

Established in 1975, Gallery Delta is an important venue in Harare for changing exhibitions of Zimbabwean paintings, graphics, mixed media sculptures and ceramics.

The gallery has over the past decades helped to promote Zimbabwean artists on the international scene.

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