Forthcoming December 2022.
Text by Meredith A. Brown. Interview with the artist by Allie Biswas
Expressive and rich paintings by the Zimbabwean artist Portia Zvavahera—made during a time of intense solitude and collective struggle across the globe.
In her paintings, Zvavahera gives form to emotions that manifest from other realms and dimensions beyond the domains of everyday life and thought. Her vivid imagery is rooted in the cornerstones of our earthly existence—life and death, pain and pleasure, isolation and connection, and love and loss.
Zvavahera draws from a powerful visual vocabulary comprising women, her family, and shape-shifting animals, in scenes both metaphorical and fantastical. In several paintings, she makes use of intricate patterns taken from her own floral or classical Zimbabwean designs. Her particular process of alternating painting and printing results in images that communicate complex emotions in a play of tension and release. The result is a deeply personal body of work that probes the nature of the human condition. As Zvavahera states, “It is me in the paintings.… I can only speak about myself.”
In addition to gorgeous reproductions of twenty-four paintings, including up-close details and installation views, this catalogue also features a new essay by the curator Meredith Brown and an interview with the artist by the writer Allie Biswas. This catalogue surveys work made since 2017.
Ruth Asawa, Noah Davis, Barbara Kruger, Andra Ursuţa, and Portia Zvavahera are among the artists invited to the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Cecilia Alemani. Titled The Milk of Dreams, the exhibition will be on view from April 23–November 27, 2022, and takes its name from a book by Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. Tau Lewis, whose exhibition at 52 Walker opens this fall, is also among the artists featured. Learn more at La Biennale di Venezia.
Among the national pavilions, Francis Alÿs will represent Belgium. The pavilion will be curated by Hilde Teerlinck, a curator at the Han Nefkens Foundation in Barcelona. Alÿs, whose work featured in the main exhibition at the Biennale Arte in 1999, 2001, and 2007, will present new work developed from his 2017 video Children’s Games #19: Haram Football. Learn more at the Belgian Pavilion.
Stan Douglas has been selected to represent Canada. Douglas’s work has previously been exhibited at the Biennale Arte in 1990, 2001, 2005, and 2019. Learn more at the National Gallery of Canada.
Concurrently with the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, the Palazzo Grassi in Venice will present open-end, a major monographic exhibition dedicated to Marlene Dumas, opening to the public on March 27, 2022. It is the latest in a cycle of monographic shows dedicated to major contemporary artists, launched in 2012 and alternating with thematic exhibitions of the Pinault Collection.
The exhibition is curated by Caroline Bourgeois in collaboration with Marlene Dumas; it brings together over 100 works and focuses on her whole pictorial production, with a selection of paintings and drawings created between 1984 and today, including unseen works made in the last few years. The exhibition will remain open to the public from March 27, 2022–January 8, 2023. Learn more from the Palazzo Grassi.
Congratulations to all eight of our artists whose work will be featured in Venice in 2022.
June 3, 2021 – As announced in ARTnews, David Zwirner is pleased to announce the representation of the Zimbabwean artist Portia Zvavahera in collaboration with Stevenson gallery. David Zwirner will present an exhibition of new work by Zvavahera in New York in the fall of 2021. Ndakavata pasi ndikamutswa nekuti anonditsigira, the artist’s first solo presentation in Europe, was featured at the gallery’s London location in 2020. Zvavahera’s work will also be a part of Program, David Zwirner’s global livestreaming event on June 10.
In her paintings, Zvavahera gives form to emotions that manifest from other realms and dimensions beyond the domains of everyday life and thought. Her vivid imagery is rooted in the cornerstones of our earthly existence—life and death, pain and pleasure, isolation and connection, and love and loss. These deeply personal visions are realized through layers of vibrant color and ornate, veil-like patterns that the artist builds up into palimpsestic surfaces through a combination of expressive brushwork and elaborate printmaking techniques. Zvavahera’s compositions draw on particular traditions of figuration in past and present Zimbabwe, first expressed in the work of Thomas Mukarobgwa in the 1960s, while also pointing to postwar artistic practices that probe the nature of the human condition.
Joining an intimate process of self-reflection with her singular perspective, Zvavahera, in the words of curator Gabi Ngcobo, “speaks of feeling both challenged by the differences in her understanding of spirituality and optimistic about the recognition of a shared resistance against the powers that have threatened our humanity. Through her mind’s eye Zvavahera transports us deeper and deeper towards our true selves. You can escape but you’ll always need to come back.”1
Image: Portia Zvavahera, This is where I travelled , 2020 (detail)
1 Gabi Ngcobo, “Portia Zvavahera,” We don’t need another hero, 10th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art (2018), accessed July 24, 2020, https://bb10.berlinbiennale.de/artists/p/portia-zvavahera.