STEVENSON CAPE TOWN features new paintings by Portia Zvavahera in an exhibition titled Mavambo Erwendo (Beginning of a Profound Journey), her first at the gallery.
Zvavahera was born in 1985 in Juru, Zimbabwe, and in 2013 she represented Zimbabwe at the Venice Biennale as part of the exhibition Dudziro: Interrogating the Visions of Religious Beliefs at the Zimbabwean Pavilion, curated by Raphael Chikukwa.
Zvavahera’s paintings display a deep understanding of colour and the language of Expressionism in a raw style of painting seldom seen in southern Africa. A distinctive aspect of her works is her integration of her painterly mark-making with print-making in the form of textile-like patterns in her imagery. Her subjects are drawn from her life and dreams and express her deeply personal concerns relating to marriage and birth, parental love, human isolation and social injustice. Her dramatic imagery is deeply rooted in religious narratives from both the Old Testament and indigenous African religions, and she is particularly interested in how contemporary Pentecostal, charismatic and Afro-Apostolic sects in Zimbabwe weave together Christian and African elements to create new theatres of meaning. Symbolism is central to these practices, and Zvavahera draws on their rituals and artifacts for her own Expressionist imagery.
The artist studied at the BAT Visual Arts Studio under the auspices of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe between 2003 and 2005, after which she obtained a first-class Diploma in Visual Arts from Harare Polytechnic in 2006. Zvavahera held a solo exhibition, Under My Skin, at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, in 2010, and has taken part in numerous group exhibitions in that country. She was an artist-in-residence at Greatmore Studios, Cape Town, in 2009. In 2013 she was the recipient of the 10th Tollman Award for the Visual Arts.
Zvavahera will exhibit concurrently with Viviane Sassen and EWS – Ernest Mancoba, Wonga Mancoba,
Sonja Ferlov Mancoba.
The exhibition opens on Thursday 16 January 2014, from 6 to 8pm.
The gallery is open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, and Saturday from 10am to 1pm.