The Financial Times announced the winner of the 2016 FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices awards. Zimbabwean artist Gareth Nyandoro is the winner of the Emerging Voices 2016 Art Award.
While Gareth Nyandoro’s vivid, abstract depictions of commercial life in Harare,Zimbabwe’s capital, have earned him international recognition, the response of his local audience remains paramount to the artist.
His canvases depict the ephemera of everyday life — a pair of shoes, a bicycle, a rail of clothes — objects so familiar that they have become virtually invisible. “I try to recreate situations that people don’t see as important,” he says. “I want to show them what they are missing.”
Beneath the swirling chaos of Harare’s markets, his work evokes humdrum human interactions. Discernible figures dance in and out of view amid the frenetic compositions. “He is a keen observer of human behaviour,” says Maria Varnava, co-director of Tiwani Contemporary, a London gallery that represents international emerging and established artists.
“The arrangement of objects I find on the street [in Harare] is an artwork in itself,” Nyandoro says. “[The traders] are very conscious of how they arrange their stalls and the objects on them. It’s very artistic for me.”
Born in 1982, Nyandoro graduated with a diploma in fine art from Harare Polytechnic in 2003 and completed his studies in creative art and design at Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe, in 2008. With a residency at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam and a sold-out solo show at Tiwani Contemporary already under his belt, his name is becoming well known. He recently represented his country in the 56th Venice Bienniale and is busy preparing a solo show at Cape Town’s SMAC gallery.
The awards attracted nearly 800 entries, with the winners selected by judging panels that included Elif Shafak, the Turkish writer and commentator, Iwona Blazwick, director of London’s Whitechapel Gallery, and Mira Nair, the Indian director of Salaam Mumbai! and, most recently, Queen of Katwe.