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Impressions of the African Townships - Review of exhibition by Misheck Manasa Matambanadzo
"Township Impressions 1" Exhibition in the Foyer, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, 13 - 30 August 2004.
Martin Chemhere, AfricanColours - mchemhere@yahoo.com
September 04, 2004

http://zimbabwe.africancolours.net/content/3560

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'Monday Morning' by Misheck Manasa MatambanadzoThe African township has always posed a challenge to many creators in the contemporary arts world: Its ground space awash with activity whether vice or nice and its atmosphere violated by unpleasant smells from a thousand garbage dumps.

Emerging but powerful young artist Misheck Manasa Matambanadzo is one Zimbabwean painter who has excelled in recreating scenes that reflect the goings-on in the African township.In the exhibition ‘Township Impressions 1" the 28 year old Matambanadzo speaks through his images that mirror real life as seen by the eye.

Childhood Township by Misheck Manasa MatambanadzoRanging from children's games by the road side, to the backyard activities where women engage in eternal gossip, to the political messages pasted on street light-poles and walls, his work mesmerizes the mind while bringing forth the true picture obtaining in the township.

The work also highlights the plight of the township people whose environs are characterized by squalor, garbage dumping, nonexistent privacy, noise and disease.

The images might be specifically talking about Harare, yet they are similar to situations elsewhere in Africa - Dakar, Lagos, Johannesburg, Maputo, Lusaka or Kinshasa. For Matambanadzo, this portrayal is not something to be ashamed of instead it gives him pride and a rich source of inspiration in his work. While he is equally conversant with issues and experiences in the suburban life, as in plush neighbourhoods of the city of Harare, he feels at home expressing images in his immediate surroundings, the ghetto, which he knows! best. "This is where I grew up, I am not ashamed of my background", he said.

Impressions of Harare 2002 Elections by Misheck Manasa Matambanadzo22 paintings make up the show, the first solo exhibition by the artist, who is fast gaining recognition as a dedicated and hardworking painter.

Eye-catching works include titles such as Monday Morning, (Oil pastel/Acrylic/Charcoal), Childhood Township, (Mufakose) (Mixed Media/Collage), Impressions of Harare 2002 Elections (Mixed Media/Collage) among others. From the easily identifiable subjects such as children's games to the sensitive and nasty developments as proffered by politics and power in Africa, he moves the viewer through phases that reflect a townships' mix of turbulence and happiness.

Matambanadzo's show succeeds as an attempt at educating the uninitiated with images that are both simplistic and largely difficult to understand, particularly when one does not share the same background with the artist.

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