STEVENSON, Johannesburg, South Africa
03 Jul 2014 - 01 Aug 2014


Ndokumbirawo Ishe 2014 Oil-based printing ink and oil stick on paper 150 x 98cm ©Portia Zvavahera. Courtesy of Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

STEVENSON JOHANNESBURG presents new work by Portia Zvavahera. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition in Johannesburg, and follows her debut Cape Town exhibition Mavambo Erwendo in January 2014.

Zvavahera exhibits ink paintings on paper and canvas – her interest in the latter reignited after attending an artist’s workshop earlier this year. Discussing her use of oil-based inks (usually used for printing processes) rather than oil paint or acrylic, Zvavahera notes the fluidity and flatness afforded by the ink that allows her to build richly layered surfaces. The relationship between materiality and mark-making is playfully explored in instances where gestural marks begin to mimic the printed textile patterns which appear in several of the new works. The printmaking reference is amplified further in the repetition of particular figures and compositions, reiterating the intensity of the emotional state depicted.

The artist draws upon her deeply held sense of spirituality and accompanying rituals of belief to embody the predominantly female figures within these works, relocating them from the realm of the personal to the transpersonal. Moving beyond literal autobiography and self-portraiture, the figures depicted become archetypal expressions of feminine experiences of faith, relationship and motherhood. Figures are revealed in varying states of reverence, prostration and isolation, and the intensity of these experiences is amplified by the ‘non spaces’ of purple, blue and red in which the figures are held. The ecstasy and suffering depicted unfolds and spreads indefinitely beyond the edges of the image, and is offered back into the world. In these instances the notion of relationship itself becomes significant above all else: relationship with God, with another and with oneself.

Opening:  Thursday 3 July, from 6 to 8pm.


Zvavahera was born in 1985 in Juru, Zimbabwe, and lives in Harare. She 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 Diploma in Visual Arts from Harare Polytechnic in 2006. She was an artist-in-residence at Greatmore Studios, Cape Town, in 2009. Zvavahera held a solo exhibition,  Under My Skin,  at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare, in 2010. In 2013 she was the recipient of the 10th Tollman Award for the Visual Arts.  She represented Zimbabwe at the Venice Biennale in 2013 as part of the exhibition Dudziro: Interrogating the Visions of Religious Beliefs  at the Zimbabwean Pavilion, curated by Raphael Chikukwa.




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