Gareth Nyandoro: Ruwa

Gareth Nyandoro: Ruwa - Omenka Online

Running presently at Tiwani Contemporary is Ruwa by Zimbabwean artist Gareth Nyandoro. The exhibition furthers the artist’s explorations of Zimbabwe drawing inspiration from the rapidly changing urban and cultural panorama of the country. The artist is noted for his large works on paper, which often spill out of two-dimensions into installations that include elements found in and around Harare, where he lives.

‘Recently I moved to a new studio which is located in Ruwa, a small town outside Harare. It used to be a farming area however, as times are ever-changing, it has now become a space for residents and the informal sector. A large number of the population are middle-aged people who have migrated from the big city, where opportunity and space are scarce,’ says Nyandoro.

‘Ruwa used to be owned by an influential war veteran who acquired it soon after the country’s liberation struggle. The need to farm in this area has been overtaken by the need to make money quick and fast – so the informal sector has flourished in this area. In Zimbabwe, our economy has now become more and more dependent on the informal sector and it has now become a major player in the economy. There is serious competition for space due to the increase of informal traders in the form of flea markets, home industries, car parks, mobile phone vendors and also human traffic, everyone is trying to survive. A lot of temporary and improvised architecture, hand-rendered signages have sprouted up in the landscape.

It becomes another form of art that people can easily absorb and connect with and without necessarily going to the gallery to see art. It is available everywhere, on trees, walls, residential gates. All these combined in the same place become a series of artworks which tell a story of struggle and persistence to survive.’

‘This competition for space and attention has greatly influenced my work, in this new exhibition, I try to capture their blue work suits (popular workwear) and the improvised temporary structures such as wooden cabins or plastic shades and the hand-rendered signages. I also place the signages with my drawings to create a narrative of the kind of businesses you see in the town,’ says the artist.

Many of the works in the exhibition have been produced using the artist’s unique kucheka-cheka technique which developed from his training in printmaking. Derived from etching and using sharp blades, Nyandoro draws onto large pieces of paper and sponges ink onto the surface before removing the top layer of paper with tape. Only ink that is trapped within the deep paper cuts remains visible, along with coils of scrap paper, which Nyandoro often collages onto the work or leaves sprinkled on the floor as indicative of his labour-intensive process.

The exhibition is accompanied by a new 96-page colour monograph on the artist’s work. Published by Anomie Publishing, the book features contributions by Adelaide Blanc and Sean O’Toole.

Gareth Nyandoro: Ruwa runs until 20 July 2020 at Tiwani Contemporary.

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