12 December 2018

Zimbabwe: 'Blood Relatives' Comes to National Gallery

National Gallery of Zimbabwe will tomorrow officially unveil the 51st edition of the Zimbabwe Annual Art Exhibition titled 'Blood Relatives'. 'Blood Relatives' is premised on how the family institute is impacted and subsequently transformed by the ever-changing cultural and technological processes birthed by globalisation.

The essence of family is artistically highlighted in this unique compilation of artworks by renowned visual artists, who include award winning Gillian Rosselli, Doris Kamupira, Alison Baker, Charles Bhebhe, Charles Nkomo, Lin Barrie, Nonhlanhla Mathe and Olivia Botha among many other artists.

Speaking to The Herald this week, the National Gallery chief curator and deputy director, Raphael Chikukwa said the show is a microcosm of the forces and dynamics that affect contemporary society.

"The cultural ecology we inhabit is evolving in the face of a wired world, which offers indefinite globalisation of infinite localities. Today everything is interconnected. Mobility and the search for greener pastures across the borders have separated families and the family unit," said Chikukwa.

While acknowledging globalisation as a necessary step for civilisation, Chikukwa lamented the downside of its effects, arguing that the family tree based relationships have been compromised by global migration, as families are split up and scattered in search of greener pastures in distant lands.

"In the past, our families used to count on the love we had for each other and that kept the family united. Now people have attitudes about difference and connectedness and scores have relocated to the diaspora. Where is the love that existed before the turn of the millennium?" Chikukwa quizzed.

Blood relatives' relationships are put under the spotlight in this exhibition, with a deliberate effort to highlight that in the contemporary space of communication, family members transact, interact, see and feel more distant and isolated today than they used to do in the past.

Award winning artist Nonhlanhla Mathe's artwork titled 'Deep Connection' portrays the bond between a mother and baby as the strongest link ever, with the artist creating an impression that the bond is compromised and weakened when people move away from their origins.

"As we grow, we tend to move to different places in search for various needs or education. As people move away from their origins, they lose connection because of lack of togetherness. Within the movements we see new families being created along the way. Due to difficult situations, culture is no longer followed. People are getting buried in foreign countries, due to lack of funds or that most of the family members are not available," said Mathe.

"The movement of the lines and waves on my painting represent migration of people all over the world for greener pastures. To some people it is fruitful, but some suffer more. Therefore, the best connection is when a baby is under its mother's arms," Mathe added.

'Blood Relatives' opens at 5.30 pm at the Gallery tomorrow and will run until February 2019.

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