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of the African Townships - Review of exhibition by Misheck Manasa
Impressions 1" Exhibition in the Foyer, National Gallery of
Zimbabwe, 13 - 30 August 2004.
Martin Chemhere, AfricanColours - firstname.lastname@example.org
September 04, 2004
This work is
licensed under a Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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