First Floor Gallery Harare presents the solo show Damba Nepwere by pioneer Zimbabwean artist Tapfuma Gutsa. The exhibition opened on 10 October 2020.
“Damba nePwere is a pun. Damba is one fruit and pwere is both singular and plural of child/youth. So in this case the title translates Child/children with a damba. Damba can also derive from kutamba/ to play ne/with pwere/vana/ children. Further, dzakatamba nePwere politely refers to a childish mind, a simpleton children can occasionally manipulate and tease for a laugh.”
“The concept of play is deceptively simple. Regardless of which language we speak, games and toys, which connect us to innocence of childhood, lose that innocence as we grow older. As humans we are not infrequently at a loss of agency, becoming the plaything of the powers that be, mere elements in the games of others people as well as force of nature at its largest and at its smallest.
Tapfuma Gutsa’s new exhibition dives deep into the potential for complexity chaos and opportunity for finding humour, compassion and wisdom in a world we often live through as space of terrible beauty.
Like the matamba shells and egg shells used in some of the works, human lives can be hard and fragile all at once. It is the vocation of the artist and the philosopher to assemble the disparate experiences and vicissitudes of life into something meaningful, but it is only the artist who can make our hearts soar and capture our imagination with the possibility of greatness.
There is an old proverb, which says that each person should carry a note in each of their pockets – the first note should say “I am but a speck of dust” and the other should say “The universe was created for me alone”. Every work in Damba nepwere is an answer to multiple questions each one of us is asking ourselves at the end of the day about our own fate and our own potential. There are universes and microcosms in these works which shift our scale and perspective on things around us and our role and condition in connection with them.
We might be playthings of a giant or giants playing with toys but for the moment it is enough to realize that just to be is a blessing and just to live is sublime.” – Text by curator Valerie Kabov