Taking fine art to the People of Zimbabwe

Art & Design | By David Chinyama, Fien Artist | 25 May 2014
PHOTO: © Baynham Goredema

On the issue of involvement of the public and our society to get to understand what visual arts is all about, Studio Harare has decided that now is the time to move our work from the gallery space to the public space where people have opportunity to encounter and get to know what visual arts is all about because previously and right now, it’s only in galleries where you can see art. We have a society who is so scared to get into a gallery space and see what is happening there because art has been classified. We are taking our art to restaurants, we taking our spaces to public space where almost everyone can bring in kids while maybe they enjoying their meals at a local restaurant. They can also have the opportunity to see our work. Recently, we had an exhibition at a local new restaurant. The response was overwhelming. It was on a Sunday, we had a lot of people coming in and from my experience and from what I heard from the people, people really want to know what’s happening within the visual arts industry like. Before we intended it to be just like classified and just only a reserve for the mainstream but now, I believe the more we take our art to the people, is the more we can draw their attention and who knows, that can be the turn around of it.

In regards to the state of the visual arts in Zimbabwe I believe Zimbabwe is one of the most developed places to operate from as visual artist. We have had struggles here and there the market itself etc, the market has dwindled for every artist practicing their trade around here; we have to compete for the small amount of clients and collectors around. But still, as artists you know, being an artist itself is a struggle. We carry on every day fighting the struggle and working. You will be amazed by how much and how artists are working in their studios to produce brilliant work.

The environment has brought up a new dispensation and a new dimension to artists despite having all the problems that we are facing. We are looking at other directions; other dimensions of how we can improve our work; but I can say so far, it’s been a difficult time but also, a good time in terms of development.

I see Zimbabwean art booming in the next year, say if there is change politically, socially. Socially, I can say there has been change but right now it’s the challenges that we are facing economically; the collectors don’t have enough money to spend and collect more art. So, I believe once everything gets back to normal, there is going to be a boom in Zimbabwe because as artists we are working; it’s only that there hasn’t been much platform for artists to show their work and for even for the international market to come in and see what’s been produced in Zimbabwe but I tell you; there is a lot happening, as far as visual art is concerned. Just a visit to different artist’s studios, you will be impressed and amazed with the quality of work that is being produced.