Portia Zvavahera: Take Me Deeper
From November 30, 2017, to January 20, 2018, Stevenson Cape Town will present Take Me Deeper, a solo exhibition by leading contemporary Zimbabwean artist Portia Zvavahera.
This new body of work arose from the artist’s three-month residency, from July to September this year, at the Gasworks in London – the longest period Zvavahera has ever spent away from her family. She describes the experience as one of intense emotion, her prevailing feelings being fear – of the uncertain and unfamiliar – and love, manifested in her spiritual beliefs and mirrored in the people around her.
Drawing from her dreams, which turned into nightmares from the shock of alienation, Zvavahera used the refuge of her studio to process these through colour and gesture. Take Me Deeper registers shifts in Zvavahera’s subconscious through variations in her colour palette. Moving from buoyant tones to a darkness evocative of subterranean panic, she expresses both religious conviction and doubt, reconfiguring motifs explored in her previous exhibition, What I See Beyond Feeling.
At the same time, Zvavahera celebrates moments of romance after witnessing rapt lovers in London parks – an extension of themes explored in her 2015 series I Can Feel It in My Eyes. Here, her finely detailed mono-printed backgrounds are transfigured into a swirling vastness that is both intimate and expansive. Her focal figures are central yet recessive; surrounded by an effusion of gestures, marks, and patterns, they are overcome and isolated while enclosed and assured.
Zvavahera combines these previously explored themes to articulate a new gradient in her emotive and spiritual spectrum, stating ‘I had to be alone to come out with something different’. The wedding veils and foliage which were distinct elements of her visual language are unified, at once terrestrial and celestial.
Straddling and surpassing love and fear, intimacy and isolation, vulnerability and safety, Take Me Deeper gives expression to a profound interiority, and a form of solitude that is freed from the burden of estrangement.
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