Harare conversations

writing, Zimbabwe

Southern African Visual art festival at the UNWTO & Beyond:
visions for a Mosi-oa-Tunya Biennial

Free and open to all

Date:30 November 2012
time:10 am until 12:30 am
Venue NGZ library
Speakers Officials form ZTA, ministry of tourism & hospitality industry & NGZ directors.

Moffat Takadiwa texted me last night, “come to the meeting”
At 9:55 I was at the National Gallery. (there I met Takor Patel, I had been at his house in 1994, I will meet him for tea this weekend.)

At the speakers table were present the deputy director of the National Gallery Zimbabwe Mr. Raphael Chikukwa, head Africa & Middle East Zimbabwe tourism authority Mr Manjengwa and a little later executive director of the NGZ Mrs. Doreen Sibanda joined in. On the other chairs were present, painters, sculptors, photographers, basket makers and crafts, mostly all men, 5 women (excluding the director)

Mr Raphael Chikukwa opened the meeting telling us the importance of the Biennial ( “every other year” in Italian most commonly used within the cultural sector to describe an international manifestation). In Asia, specifically China the Biennials are big.

And it is true, they are fairly well organised. A year and a half before the event they start setting up shop
12 months before the event, letters and emails are sent out to inform artists, museum, galleries, unions , academies and curators that they can submit work
9 months before, submissions for artists are complete
4 months to go: artists are selected and informed
3 months to go: art works are shipped to China, catalogues are made
2 weeks to go: exhibition is set in place
1 day to go, artists arrive to participate in the opening festival and conference.
Because they have a well geared industry they produce beautiful banners and posters and catalogues and with an eloquent banquette the artist is made to  feel special. An exhibition will draw in about 300 international artists. Some biennials supply food, transport of art work and accommodation, others only supply the banquet.

Mr Raphael Chikukwa, continued to tell us about the importance of the Biennial, especially in Southern Africa were there is no such event. The last Biennial in Johannesburg 1995 failed to repeat and became a uno-ennial.

Mr Manjengwa (Zimbabwe tourism authority)  told us about the great opportunity available. A visual arts festival at the Victoria Falls. There would be tourists, hotels, a new airport runway. Each party could benefit, from the crafts people to the hotels to the taxi drives. “The cake is here”, he said, and continued to explain that it is a great opportunity for any organisation to put a plan on the table for the Victoria Falls, and we would share the cake. His message was clear as daylight, a circus manifestation, football conference, diamond digging conference it all brings in the tourists.

Questions from the public: is this the right place with no museums or galleries, are the tourists our main viewing public to our culture and art, what about the environment, will my weaving practice be seen, will there be facilities to exhibit the works and will they be save from the rains, will my district be fairly represented, will there be censorship?
Mr Manjengwa being a natural father figure took it upon himself to answer most of the questions with patience. The bottom line: his business is tourism. With the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly next year 2013 there would be new facilities such as the  5 000 seater conference centre boosting Victoria Fall’s reputation as a world-class conferencing destination. I am sure he had other meetings scheduled from the birdwatching association to to the gold miners association.

The outcome of the dialogue: a committee had to be formed quickly. Seven to eight members. A hand was raised and Calvin Dondo was nominated. I raised my hand, and being in the front row could nominate  Moffat Takadiwa. Before long the committee was made. There was quick discussion if all districts, disciplines were present and gender. (Jane became gender). For those committee members that have attended an international art event will be aware of the importance of the cultural exchange of art and education, whereas other artists would be focused on show casing and selling their products to the tourists. An interesting thought on cake and culture.

This is the start to a possible Mosi-oa-Tunya Biennial of Southern Africa.

Back in the first floor gallery I had three more little visitors, I hope they remember the arts and one day  frequent the museums and galleries of contemporary art in Zimbabwe.

Harare conversations

Harare conversations

Harare conversations

Harare conversations

also see:

Mosi-oa-Tunya Biennale for UNWTO

Zimbabwean artists met in the capital last week ahead of preparations to mount a Southern African Visual Arts Festival in Victoria Falls next year.
The initiative will encompass artists from the region and is meant to afford them an opportunity to showcase their work to delegates attending the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly, which Zambia and Zimbabwe will co-host in the resort area of Victoria Falls next August.



follow up https://kvans.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/mosi-oa-tunya-biennale-disneyland-in-africa/

Polygone Mesh in Harare

exhibitions, Zimbabwe
For those that are too far from Harare centre, I have made some photographs of the exhibition in the First Floor Gallery of Harare. The exhibition does not have titles, price-lists or name tags to disturb the visitor from enjoying the art.(true Gaidaro style)
K_Van, visual artist from the Netherlands shows his new paintings in
the First floor gallery Harare. It seems as if the objects in the paintings come out of the wall. Bulky, angular and industrial forms painted in tones and hues of green. “I break objects down with 3D design programs,” explains the artist, “Once I have a grid, I transfer the lines onto a canvas, tracing each vector using needle and thread.” The artist then paints the grids using oil paints in different layers and tones of colour. K_Van is not a new to Harare, he has exhibited here before in 1994. ‘My previous visit greatly influenced my work, this is the importance of cultural dialogue. When I returned home my vision had changed and I started to work  with a greater diversity of materials. Now that I am back, I realise that the Zimbabwean influence might have been deeper. Visiting the National Gallery of Zimbabwe again I looked at the strong angular lines in Nicholas Mukomberanwa’s sculptures. These lines must inspire many artists and I feel that through the years they have subconsciously influenced my work.

K_Van’s work can be seen at the First floor gallery Harare.
George Silundika ave 24 Mercury house from 10:30-17:00 or by appointment.

The exhibition will run until the 1st of December 2012 with a presentation at 17:00


a Nicholas Mukomberanwa’s sculpture

exhibition in Harare

exhibitions, Zimbabwe

On Monday 26 November 2012, my new works will be on show in the www.firstfloorgalleryharare.com

If you are in Harare and would like to see my exhibition, send me a text message on 0776600683.
George Silundika ave 24 Mercury house from 10:30-17:00 or by appointment

The exhibition will run until the 1st of December 2012


with many thanks to the Mondriaan Foundation for their support.https://i1.wp.com/shared.mondriaanfonds.nl/files/general/i_021/logo_mf_portal.jpg

workshop making your own paints


In this workshop we are going to be making and testing artists’ low budget PVA paint. The write-up about this project includes the results of the artists from the First Floor gallery of Harare. I hope that teachers and artists will follow the workshop and discover how you can also make your own paints.

Moffat, Gersham, Mavis, Wycliffe, Joe, Kres and Sky

Participants 6-30

Ground rules of each workshop

  1. respect 4 all, all 4 one  (confidentiality: personal issues discussed in the group remain in the group)
  2. For each exercise there is a set time, stick to it (you will be told how much time you have and how much time is left to round off your task)
  3. There is a general silence agreement, when the instructor asks for general silence, be silent.
  4. The participants will be split up into groups of 3-4. Participants may get a role in their group to assist with materials or tasks.

Artists gossip round

Each person tells what they know about  one other participant.
In this way we know how others see us.
(If participants do not know one another, do a speed-date session)
results: we learned what the others make, what there themes are, where they get support from and inspiration.

Introduction to making paint

Paint is made out of pigment (powder) and a glue (medium) that holds it together.

Make a mind map: 5 min
name pigments and different types of mediums

output oxide, red clay, ultra marine, cadmium yellow, iron oxide….
linseed oil, wood glue, Arabic gum…
note: Dye molecules are much smaller than pigment particles and are much more vulnerable to light.

results:the pigment is the colour, the medium holds the pigment together. Some glues dissolve in water like Arabic gum for water colours.

with thanks to naturalpigments.com

Mixing glue and powder: 45 min

We found several powder paints for sale in Harare centre, 200gr 3$US , wood glue 1kg for 5 $US. We bought white, red, cyan, yellow and oxide black (the cheapest).

Mix the powder with the glue and add a little water. Find out what results this gives.

output: we mixed all the powders and tested them. We also mixed the pigments with linseed oil. Pigment with oil paint, pigment with acrylic emulsion.

results: 20 min

  • PVA being a cheaper type of binder than acrylic medium dries up slightly white, leaving dark blue with a slightly milky layer.
  • The white was difficult to mix with the glue, it became lumpy. We have to find a better way to mix.
  • Mixing powders with oil was difficult. Too little oil, resulted in a lumpy mess, too much oil resulted in a lean paint.
  • Raw linseed oil resulted in a darker yellow.
  • Mixing powder with oil paint gave good result. This could be used full for extending the oil paint.
  • the Acrylic emulsion was of such poor quality that we abandoned using it.

Today’s conclusions: 10 min
It is possible to make a study quality paint from pigments and PVA glue. Adding a little water makes the paint flow better. We found that our paint dries fast, so mind how much paint you make. PVA glue can also be added to tempera paint. This will enable the artist to paint layer over dry layer like acrylic paint.

We also found out that oil paints can be bought in Zimbabwe, they go for 10$ US for 170ml but buy the W&N Chinese brand (the W&N European will cost 3 times more).
[note:  W&N 200ml in Europe is 12 Euro.]

next: mixing the colours


writing, Zimbabwe

mondriaan fondsIn April I had met Valerie Kabov during the Art & Dialogue course in Paris. I had lived in  Harare in 1994, she is living in Harare now and runs the First floor gallery space in Harare. In May we met again, briefly, in Amsterdam, to discuss an exhibition. Valerie had already made contacts with the Mondriaan foundation in Amsterdam for funding.

Harare, the rain season has started, I had arrived the night before. During my first walk in the city my eyes would well op with tears. 18 years is a long time to be away, and my sight triggered by so many memories left my brain scrambling to find the right emotions. It is like a dream and not. The past firmly rooted in my memories has to come to terms. The streets and buildings have changed. The songs of the birds seem to be the same. The cell phones and the air time is new. The smell of wax on the floor is old, the cream doughnuts  seem to be larger. The street boys that were 10 years old should now be 28.

Painter dwells on cross-cultural virtues, Zimbabwee

exhibitions, Zimbabwe

K_Van travels back to Zimbabwe

Painter dwells on cross-cultural virtues
Martin Chemhere

THIS is the poetic side of K_Van a young Dutch painter whose recent exhibition of impressions of daily life in Southern Africa ran for a week in John Boyne Gallery *in Harare. A culmination of an ongoing cultural research. The exhibition features drawings, paintings and graphical work. Highlighting cross-cultural virtues as experienced by the artists.

SUNDAY TIMES MARCH 6, 1994  ’published without fear or favour” ‘

[John Boyne Gallery was a galley space sponsored by a bank in Harare. For a relatively low rent artists could use it to exhibit their works. The gallery no longer exists.]

Unlike my travels in 1994, I will be presenting paintings that where made in the Netherlands in 2012. I am curious about the reactions that I will get. Paintings from 1994 like ‘Aids and incest’ were not easily accessible.  What will the polygones do?