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When paint and ignorance meet
Owen Chirinda, Kalabash, Magamba Network
December 21, 2012

The canvas is ever smooth, the edges almost wet and the paint pronounces an existence.

If you look at the paintings of Shelton Farai Chaumbezvi a certain fire lights up a smile. The canvas on which the bright paintings dwell breathes life.

Shelton Farai Chaumbezvi is an upcoming artist who began painting in 2006 while in South Africa after having gone there in search of greener pastures. Born and bred in Glen Norah, his art is inspired by nature and the works of fellow local artists like Taska Kamatuwa. Chaumbezvi uses the abstract, the cityscape and the landscape in his artworks because he believes that we gain our existence from the environment around us.

In a street exhibition in Glen Norah with colleagues, some failed to see the meaning in the mannequin life that Chaumbezvi creates.

While in some countries works of art - like Leonardo da Vinci's the Monalisa and Michalengelo's The Last Judgement -are cherished as expressions of life, past and present, most Africans at the turn of the century have not really found value in it.

Chaumbezvi concurred with this notion and agreed that ‘tourists and foreigners are appreciating local art more than the indigenous people.' This has been compounded by the fact that art education is not mainstreamed in the formal curricula, hence most Zimbabweans coming from government schools have little acquaintance with art products. Chaumbezvi also said that in primary schools children only learn to sketch using crayons and have little experience with acrylic paint, oil paint and PVA: materials essential to the creation of art.

While the industry itself has been facing challenges Chaumbezvi believes there is hope and he has shared experiences with artists like Steven Makoena and Mzee. He has also rubbed shoulders with people like Petros Mwenga and David Chinyama. He urged artists to work together despite the various challenges faced when making visual art accessible to the public. He argues that ‘sculpture and painting are one, they deal with people.' He also encouraged artists to push on and said ‘there is no junk in art.'

Much needs to be done in funding, educating and providing a sphere for the artist. In order to let paintings, sediments of the old and the new speak to the people about their social and political life, the art of people like Chaumbezvi should not be left to go to waste.

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