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Portia Zvavahera I’m with You

Essay by Nomaduma Rosa Masilela


Ekphrasis for a Veiled Dream Nomaduma Rosa Masilela

1. A ghostly figure strides across the picture plane. Her form is simultaneously diaphanous and opaque. Her head emerges like a cumulus cloud from the collar of her lacy white dress. The garment, while porous, reveals no trace of a body underneath, solely a formless field of lavender below the billowing chiffon. Her oversized feet barely graze the ground as she ambles forward, intensely preoccupied with the form she cradles in her arms. Is she falling over her bulbous feet, her body nearly lifting off the ground, or is it the ground itself that refuses its support? It is not a firm ground. It is a gestural field of burnt umber, sienna and plum that reveals the white paper underneath. Is it painterly haste that permits the material ground to show? Or does its exposure serve to highlight the harmonious strata of lavender, blood ochre and blue below? The scalloped pattern of the dress appears to hover gently on the picture plane, an illusion. The lace print smudges indentations into the layers below. Or is it the paper underneath that pushes back? A set of diminutive limbs clasp the lavender form in a tight embrace, disrupting the orderly pattern with their sickly mustard hue. She wraps a pale, striated arm around the clinger’s grimacing grey face; she cradles it against her chest as it strains into an endless scream. An overwhelming foam of white consumes the honey-yellow body as she hastens to the edge: Ndakadeedzera (I Shouted), 2016 (p104).

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2. Portia Zvavahera paints her dreams. She keeps sketchbooks tucked under pillows and records her dreams within them upon waking, later taking them to the studio as source material for her oil-based paintings and works on paper. Using printing ink and oil bar, Zvavahera fills her large paintings with expressive figures that drip and float across ornate fields of printed patterns as they contort in the throes of emotional entanglement. In recent years, Zvavahera’s work has explored a combination of dream records and reflections on her personal relationships and lived memories. She explains:

Before, I used to paint my dreams. I sleep and when I wake I don’t forget my dreams. I make a sketch in my sketchbook. Later I just translate the dream onto the canvas. But now, I kind of join together the dream and my experiences with my husband and everyone else around me, to make a painting.1 Zvavahera’s dreamscapes are filled with thoughts of members of her family, as well as important occasions in her life, and many are visual missives showing the simultaneous simplicity and complications of love. While Ndakadeedzera shows the focused care of a mother for her child, I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015 (p51-87), is a series of large-scale paintings of lovers embracing among the flowers of Harare’s central park. Inspired by the textile patterns popular in Harare fashion magazines, Zvavahera prints intricate patterns onto the canvases in order to create vibrant floral grounds for her tenderly contorted lovers.2 Bursting brushstrokes herald the emotional fervour of springtime romance, as oversized hands clasp and large feet tenderly intertwine.

1 Portia Zvavahera. Interviewed by Netsayi. ‘Portia Zvavahera’. BOMB Magazine, Vol 134, Winter 2015-16, pp36-45. 2 Lucinda Jolly. ‘Unique Afro-expressionist Style’. Cape Times, 6 August 2016, p12.


3. Zvavahera works in layers. She covers her canvases with bold strokes, drips and sinuous lines, while simultaneously using a collagraph blockprint to incorporate intricate patterns across and within her painted forms. This printing technique produced the lace design of the dress in Ndakadeedzera and the bold floral patterns in the series I Can Feel It in My Eyes. Zvavahera developed her painting and printing techniques at the Harare Polytechnic College, where she earned a first-class Diploma in Visual Art. At the college, she was exposed to an artistic pedagogical practice that emphasized technical and formal concerns. Referring to her teacher, Zvavahera explains:

A print has to be smart. It has to be very clean. If you drop something on the print, then it’s a reject. So, even when he was teaching us the technique, if you didn’t do it the way he wanted it, then you failed. He was good.3 This sort of precision is visible throughout Zvavahera’s oeuvre: the prints that spread across the paintings are decisively and very neatly plotted in place. While practising these techniques under the guidance of her instructors, Zvavahera and her schoolmates were taught the histories and works of the European impressionist and expressionist movements. Zvavahera’s expressive manipulation of paint reveals the influence of works by Gustav Klimt, Francis Bacon, Egon Schiele and Edvard Munch.4 She supplemented her studies with frequent visits to Gallery Delta in Harare, where painting by local contemporary artists, such as Helen Lieros, Luis Meque, Chikonzero Chazunguza and Charles Kamangwana, was often exhibited, and was influential to her work. The precision of printed pattern lives in compelling contrast to the gestural application of paint, and reflects the confident hand of an artist who has mastered her two mediums of choice. We Are Covered, 2016 (p79), is a painting on canvas of two hugging figures in which the printed and painted coexist in tension and the modernist interrogation of line is expanded. The two figures are composed of borderless fields of colour and pattern that suggest human forms but verge on the bulbous and cloudlike. The body of the central figure is an amorphous triangle of purple floral patterns, while the second figure that embraces it lacks interior form and is articulated with a tenuous line of red. These lines do not serve to delineate, but merely

3 Zvavahera interview. BOMB Magazine, p45. 4 Doreen Sibanda and Raphael Chikukwa. Dudziro: Interrogating the Visions of Religious Beliefs. Zimbabwe Pavilion, 55th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia. Milano: Edizioni Charta, 2013.

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rest atop the picture plane. Through repeatedly layering translucent paint to achieve varying levels of opacity, she alternately reveals and conceals that which lies underneath, all the while obscuring the means by which it is exposed. The interplay of shape and line reveals a formal slippage that Zvavahera plays with throughout her works. Both We Are Covered and Ndakadeedzera represent a woman and child, and much of her painting focuses on women’s work and activities, whether caring for children, giving birth, walking in wedding processions, or kneeling for prayer. Zvavahera’s representation of women’s roles and their bodies in her opaque painterly style touches on women’s issues not solely in her own locale, but also worldwide: in looking at Zvavahera’s work, the artist Nontsikelelo Mutiti raises the question of women’s safety, stating that “we [women] are doing the work in our communities of being nurturers but we aren’t safe in those spaces”.5 While revelatory of these concerns, the printed patterns perform the task of obstructing easy visual access to the women represented. The figures in Ndakadeedzera are enveloped in voluminous clouds of dresses, overlaid with white patterns akin to the veiling qualities of lace in wedding gowns. The gown conceals the action in the field of the painting: a traditional garment thus enables the bodies to be illegible. This active veiling is a moment of resistance and self-empowerment; Zvavahera dresses her figures in the soft materials of traditional femininity, but through her play with line and pattern is able to resist the viewer’s prying gaze, allowing her figures’ autonomy through an opacity of form.

5 Kwanele Sosibo. ‘ZIm artists see with spiritual eyes’. Mail & Guardian, 30 November 2016.


4. Zvavahera cites religion often in interviews and represents it in her paintings. Doreen Sibanda, director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, observes that “Zvavahera’s work explores how versions of Pentecostal, charismatic Christian and Afro-Apostolic sects of Zimbabwe increasingly engage artifacts, scepters and symbolic paraphernalia as conduits for the dissemination of their religious ideologies.”6 Zvavahera’s paintings take cues from a related constellation of the religious and the supernatural. She explains:

The dream is like the prophet, telling you about the future, about what’s going to happen or what is causing something to happen in the future. We all sleep; we all have dreams. […] For me, the dreams are like future-telling, letting me know what to do next or what’s happening in the spirit world that I should be aware of. And then I should take action in prayer.7 Zvavahera is part of a long lineage of artists who produce work that strains towards the universal through its investigation of the spiritual. Her first art school, the BAT Visual Arts Studios, managed by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, had previously been the Workshop School. The Workshop School was established by Frank McEwen, then-director of the National Gallery of Rhodesia; it operated in the years before independence, from the 1950s to 1973. McEwen projected onto his students a primitivist desire for authenticity and demanded they produce work that reflected an unadulterated universal unconscious stemming from an imagined African source. As a result, modern Zimbabwean artists working in the Workshop School, such as the expressionist painter Thomas Mukarobgwa, were induced to produce work within the rubric of a fabricated spirituality imposed by their instructor and primary patron.8 However, artists such as Mukarobgwa resisted such creative and conceptual limitations, which were taught in workshop schools across the continent. The expressionist painter Iba N’Diaye refused impositions of authenticity in Senegal, arguing that:

For me, painting is an internal necessity, a need to express myself while trying to be clear about my intentions concerning subjects that have affected me – to commit myself concerning vital problems, the problems of our existence.9

6 Sibanda. Dudziro, p33. 7 Zvavahera interview. BOMB Magazine, p40-44. 8 Elizabeth Morton. ‘Frank McEwen and Joram Mariga: Patron and Artist in the Rhodesian Workshop School Setting, Zimbabwe.” African Art and Agency in the Workshop. Ed. Sidney Littlefield Kasfir and Till Förster. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013, p284.

9 Iba N’Diaye. Iba N’Diaye and Iba N’Diaye: Un peintre, un humaniste. Quoted in VY Mudimbe. ‘Reprendre: Enunciations and Strategies in Contemporary African Arts’ in Reading the Contemporary: African art from theory to the marketplace. Eds. Olu Oguibe and Okwui Enwezor. London: Institute of International Visual Arts; Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1999, p39.

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The Russian abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky was similarly concerned with the prophetic role of the artist in his well-known tome Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1910). He strove to develop a universal visual language of abstract forms and colours that transcended cultural and physical boundaries, and articulated a concern regarding the spiritual in art, examining the ‘internal necessity’ that impels artists to create as a spiritual impulse. Zvavahera’s expressionist dreamscapes are also in close conversation with the work of Surrealists, who produced work by mining their subconscious, through automatic drawings and paintings of dreams. The Spanish surrealist painter Joan Miró prized the deeply intimate, personal and painful as the source of the universal. Miró explains his belief in the anonymity of an individual gesture, which in “being anonymous, […] allows the universal to be attained … The more local anything is, the more universal.”10 Zvavahera’s deeply personal work complicates notions of universality that are often limited to the realm of the white and the male. The energy of her expressive marks reflects the widespread anxiety regarding political and economic instability in Zimbabwe, which in turn has also increased religious devotion and ‘hyperspirituality’.11

10 Joan Miró. Miró: I Work Like a Gardener. Paris: XXe siècle, 1964. 11 Kwanele Sosibo. ‘Zim artists see with spiritual eyes’. Mail & Guardian, 30 November 2016.


5. Zvavahera’s layered forms engender a feeling of the uncanny, which the Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud described as “that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar”.12 Ndakadeedzera is a painting of a woman caring for a small child, yet – through an uncertainty of form, a complication of how bodies exist in space and in relation to one another – a greater sense of ambiguity is engendered in the viewer. Both Ndakadeedzera and We Are Covered oscillate between the tender and the strange. The pink mouth of the grey Munchian face that protrudes out of the billowing white dress of Ndakadeedzera is inscrutable. It may be the face of a squalling child who is tenderly held and stroked by the striding figure. It may be the silent scream of someone ensnared. It is this ambivalent and inscrutable element that produces the punctum of her work:

When you have a dream it’s like when you look at a painting: there’s a focal point. In the dream there’s this thing that strikes you, that’s where I create my painting.13

12 Sigmund Freud. The Uncanny. Trans. David McClintock. London: Penguin Books, 2003. 13  Portia Zvavahera: What I See Beyond Feeling (3 November 2016 – 27 January 2017). Press release. Johannesburg: Stevenson, 2016.

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6. Break. I recently awoke from a dream, in which I was sure and certain that a woman who did not resemble my mother in the slightest was, in fact, her. Despite long seaweed hair and a face that did not belong to my mother, this apparition was my only source of life and complicated sense of self. She slowly walked away from me, looking over her shoulder as her strange blue hair whipped across her face. I walked towards her, as though drawn, experiencing a strange and yet familiar feeling of closeness and abandon. She frightened me and yet I knew not whether it was due to her unfamiliar appearance or the feelings of uncertainty engendered by her withdrawal. I was drawn to her, both for the security the idea of a mother induces, but also because of the strange volatile beauty she now embodied. Like a frightened moth I was drawn to her flame. I abruptly awoke, uncertain if I had ceased dreaming. 7. This break, which emulates the writing of the feminist performance studies scholar Rebecca Schneider, serves as a moment of interregnum within an analysis of Zvavahera’s work as universal.14 It is a moment of self-reflexivity that acknowledges the palimpsest that is Zvavahera’s oeuvre. Zvavahera’s paintings are not only reflections of her subconscious, but also of her experience as a mother and an artist whose work is in conversation with her contemporaries and predecessors in Zimbabwe, across the continent and beyond. Zvavahera’s paintings weave mercurial relations between print and paint, line and form, and in their opacity expose the close relation between the intimate and the universal. Maybe it was all a dream. Or a beautifully articulated scream.

Nomaduma Rosa Masilela is a writer based in New York City. She is currently completing her doctorate in art history at Columbia University while also working on independent curatorial projects.

14 Rebecca Schneider. The Explicit Body in Performance. London/New York: Routledge, 1997. Edward Said correctly warns: “On the contrary, no experience that is interpreted or reflected on can be characterized as immediate, just as no critic or interpreter can be entirely believed if he or she claims to have achieved an Archimedean perspective that is subject neither to history nor to a social setting.” (Said. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Vintage Books, 1994, p33.)


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His Presence, 2013

31


Gentle Touch, 2013

32


Ready to Toss, 2013

33


Ndizembere (Lean on Me), 2013

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Ndakavhumbamira, 2014

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36


Tauya Naye, 2013

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Vhoiri Rimwe, 2014

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Ndouya Kwamuri Jehova, 2014

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Panerima Rakakomba, 2014

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Living the Dream, 2014

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In the Wings, 2014

44


Let’s Fly Together, 2014

45


Complete, 2014

46


Ndakupfeka, 2014

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Pakatangira Rudo, 2014

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50


A woman was searching and found love in her dreams.

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In her dreams, she saw a man saying sweet messages to her ear. He said, ‘Like the lily among thorns, so are you my love. Like an apple tree among the trees, so is my beloved.’ They hugged each other in the dream. And she woke up. As time went by she met the man from her dreams. I Can Feel It in My Eyes tells a story of their love. She said, ‘My soul yearns for you in the night.’ ‘Yes, my spirit within me seeks you earnestly.’ I found him whom my soul loves. I held him and would not let him go. He brought me into his house and his love waved like a protecting and comforting banner when I was near him. I can feel his left hand under my head and his right hand embraces me. The two became one as they exchanged vows.

I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

As man says, ‘I will love you for richer or poorer, in sickness and happiness, and nothing will separate us until death us do part,’ so the scriptures say, ‘Who shall separate us from Christ’s love?’

Portia Zvavahera, 2016


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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015 57


I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015-17

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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We Are Covered, 2016

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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85


I Can Feel It in My Eyes, 2015

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87


Embraced and Protected in You, 2016

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90


Ndinewe (I’m with You), 2016

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Ndinewe (I’m with You), 2016

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Ndinewe (I’m with You), 2016

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Ndinewe (I’m with You), 2016

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Ndinewe (I’m with You), 2016

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You Can’t Take My Hands, 2015

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You Can’t Take My Hands, 2015

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What I See Beyond Feeling speaks of the relationship between God and woman. God communicated with her through dreams. She saw in her dream a bird coming towards her to stab her in the chest but she managed to run away.

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She was given a warning before it happened. She became sick soon after the dream but she remembered the promise that the eternal God is your refuge and dwelling place. Underneath are His everlasting arms.

Pane Vaviri Ndiriwetatu, 2016

He drove the enemy before her. She experienced the presence of God. She felt protected.

Portia Zvavahera, 2016


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Pane Vaviri Ndiriwetatu, 2016

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What I Saw, 2016

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What I See Beyond Feeling, 2016

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What I See Beyond Feeling, 2016

103


Ndakadeedzera (I Shouted), 2016

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Ndakavhara Kuti Ndisaone, 2016

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Handidi Kuzviona, 2016

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Vese Vakanddibata (They All Gave Me Strength), 2016

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Sacred Vessels, 2016

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112


Pane Vaviri Ndiriwetatu, 2016

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Wonderfully Made, 2016

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Wonderfully Made, 2016

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I Want to Stay in Love, 2017

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Our Dance, 2017

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What I See Beyond Feeling, installation view, Stevenson Johannesburg, 2016


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List of Works

p31

p40

p48

His Presence, 2013

Ndouya Kwamuri Jehova, 2014

Pakatangira Rudo, 2014

p32

p41

p51, detail p1

Gentle Touch, 2013

Panerima Rakakomba, 2014

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [12], 2015

p33

p43

p52

Ready to Toss, 2013

Living the Dream, 2014

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [17], 2015

p34

p44

p53

Ndizembere (Lean on Me), 2013

In the Wings, 2014

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [16], 2015

p35

p45

p55, detail p13

Ndakavhumbamira, 2014

Let’s Fly Together, 2014

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [27], 2015

p37

p46

p56, detail p2-3

Tauya Naye, 2013

Complete, 2014

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [6], 2015

p38

p47

p59

Vhoiri Rimwe, 2014

Ndakupfeka, 2014

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [7], 2015

Oil-based printing ink on paper 150 × 114cm

Oil-based printing ink on paper 150 × 124cm

Oil-based printing ink on paper 101 × 76cm

Oil-based printing ink on paper 128.5 × 150.5cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 157.5 × 110cm

Oil-based printing ink on paper 115 × 150cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 157 × 455cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 150 × 99cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 126.5 × 151cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 201 × 112cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 198 × 112cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 198 × 125cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 200 × 123cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 194 × 122cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 192 × 123cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 207 × 153cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 259.5 × 134cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 229.5 × 160.5cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 182 × 265cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 130 × 222cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 165 × 248cm


120

p61

p72

p85, detail p8

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [14], 2015

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [8], 2015

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [23], 2015

p62

p73

p87

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [15], 2015

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [9], 2015

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [22], 2015

p64

p75

p88-89, detail p10-11

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [11], 2015

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [18], 2015

Embraced and Protected in You, 2016

p65

p76

p91

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [3], 2015

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [19], 2015

Ndinewe (I’m with You) [2], 2016

p66

p77

p92

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [2], 2015

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [21], 2015

Ndinewe (I’m with You) [3], 2016

p67

p79

p93

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [1], 2015

We Are Covered, 2016

Ndinewe (I’m with You) [4], 2016

p69

p81, detail p6-7

p94

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [20], 2015-17

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [26], 2015

Ndinewe (I’m with You) [1], 2016

p70

p82

p95

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [4], 2015

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [25], 2015

Ndinewe (I’m with You) [5], 2016

p71, detail p5

p83

p96

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [5], 2015

I Can Feel It in My Eyes [24], 2015

You Can’t Take My Hands [2], 2015

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 179 × 206cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 230.5 × 161cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 209.5 × 163.5cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 228 × 130cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 161 × 200cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 155 × 155cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 140 × 203cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 195 × 160cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 222.5 × 161cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 208.5 × 124.5cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 205.5 × 129cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 228 × 160cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 203 × 160cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 246 × 206cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 208 × 246cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 187.5 × 265cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 200 × 265.5cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 167.5 × 205.5cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 170 × 205cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 206 × 230.5cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 210 × 390cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 202.5 × 140cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 187 × 140cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 186 × 140cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 191.5 × 140cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 186.5 × 140cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 176 × 138cm


p97

p111

You Can’t Take My Hands [1], 2015

Sacred Vessels, 2016

p99

p113

Pane Vaviri Ndiriwetatu [2], 2016

Pane Vaviri Ndiriwetatu [1], 2016

p100-101

p114

What I Saw, 2016

Wonderfully Made [1], 2016

p102

p115

What I See Beyond Feeling [1], 2016

Wonderfully Made [2], 2016

p103

p116, detail p14

What I See Beyond Feeling [2], 2016

I Want to Stay in Love, 2017

p104, detail p18

p117

Ndakadeedzera (I Shouted), 2016

Our Dance, 2017

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 166 × 138cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 258 × 203cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 199 × 332cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 209 × 138cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 209 × 138cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 240 × 140cm p105

Ndakavhara Kuti Ndisaone, 2016

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 227 × 140cm p107, details on cover

Handidi Kuzviona, 2016

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 238 × 140cm p108-109, detail p16-17

Vese Vakanddibata (They All Gave Me Strength),

2016 Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 199 × 315cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 269 × 200cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 297 × 201cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 206 × 136cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on canvas 206 × 153cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 203 × 140cm

Oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper 207.5 × 140cm

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Portia Zvavahera was born in 1985 in Juru, Zimbabwe. She lives in Harare.

Education Diploma in Fine Art, Harare Polytechnic College, Zimbabwe 2004 Certificate in Art, BAT Workshop, Harare, Zimbabwe 2006

Solo exhibitions 2016  What I See Beyond Feeling,

Stevenson, Johannesburg, South Africa 2015  I Can Feel It in My Eyes, Stevenson, Cape Town, South Africa 2014  Wayfinding, Stevenson, Johannesburg, South Africa  Mavambo Erwendo, Stevenson, Cape Town, South Africa 2010 Under My Skin, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare Group exhibitions 2016  Body Luggage,

Steirischer Herbst Festival, Graz, Austria Exchange, Galerie Hans Mayer, Düsseldorf, Germany  I Love You Sugar Kane, Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean, Port Louis, Mauritius  The Quiet Violence of Dreams, Stevenson, Cape Town, South Africa 2015  African Odysseys, Le Brass, Brussels, Belgium  Liberated Subjects: Present Tense,

Foundation De 11 Lijnen, Oudenburg, Belgium 2014  Shifting Africa – What the Future Holds, Mediations Biennale, Poznan, Poland; Kunsthalle Faust, Hannover, Germany  Dudziro: Interrogating the Visions of Religious Beliefs, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare 2013  Dudziro: Interrogating the Visions of Religious Beliefs, Zimbabwe Pavilion, 55th Venice Biennale, Italy  You and I, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe 2012  Idea of Self, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare  DUO, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe 2011  Zviro Zviyedzwa, Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions, Harare, Zimbabwe  Beyond Borders, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare  Landscape, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe  International Women’s Day, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare  Hope and Despair, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare  Three Thoughts: Helen Lieros, Virginia Chihota and Portia Zvavahera, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe 2010  Another Perspective, Gallery 23, Amsterdam, the Netherlands  35 Years, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe

 Live and Direct, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare 2009  Ubuntu, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare  Strength, National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo  Unity, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe  Expressions of Zimbabwe, University of Avignon, France  Tri-Lingual, Greatmore Studios, Cape Town, South Africa 2008  Enriching Women, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe  Post Election Selection, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe 2007  Peace through Unity in Diversity, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe 2006  Persistence, National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe, Mutare Awards  2014 FNB Art Prize, South Africa 2013 Tollman Award for the Visual Arts, South Africa Residencies 2009 Greatmore

Studios, Cape Town, South Africa 2008 National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare Dzimbanhete Arts Interactions, Harare, Zimbabwe


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Bibliography

Colah, Zasha. ‘Body Luggage: Migration of Choreographic Signs’ in Body Luggage. Berlin: Archive Books; Graz: Steirischer Herbst

http://artthrob.co.za/2016/09/05/ celebration-and-speculation-koloanemasamvu-and-zvavahera/ Sosibo, Kwanele. ‘Zim artists see with spiritual eyes’. Mail & Guardian, 30 November. https://mg.co.za/article/ 2016-11-30-00-zim-artists-see-withspiritual-eyes

2014

2015

Portia Zvavahera: Wayfinding. Catalogue 79.

Blackman, Matthew. ‘Portia Zvavahera: I Can Feel It in My Eyes’. ArtReview, October Colvin, Rob. ‘Painting According to Frieze New York’. Hyperallergic, 15 May. http:// hyperallergic.com/207433/paintingaccording-to-frieze-new-york/ Farago, Jason. ‘Frieze New York review – navigating the maze of art fair’s eccentric fun’, The Guardian, 14 May. https://www. theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/may/14/ frieze-new-york-review-art-fair Fikeni, Lwandile. ‘Of Love and Loss’. City Press, 16 August Jamal, Ashraf. ‘Twin exhibitions conjure the depth of feeling love and loss’. Business Day, 31 July Jolly, Lucinda. ‘Waiting for the muse: Unique Afro-expressionist style’. Cape Times, 6 August Kuijers, Isabella. ‘Dreams of love and summer: Portia Zvavahera’s I Can Feel It in My Eyes’. ArtThrob, 24 August. http://artthrob. co.za/2015/08/24/dreams-of-love-andsummer-portia-zvavaheras-i-can-feel-itin-my-eyes/

→  Books and exhibition catalogues 2016

Leiman, Layla. ‘Portia Zvavahera dreams of exotic blossoms of love’. Between 10 and 5, 31 July. http://10and5.com/2015/07/31/ featured-portia-zvavahera-dreams-of-exoticblossoms-of-love/ Netsayi. ‘Interview: Art – Portia Zvavahera’. BOMB Magazine, Winter 2015-16 2014

Cape Town: Stevenson 2013

Chikukwa, Raphael and Doreen Sibanda.

Dudziro: Interrogating the Visions of Religious Beliefs. Milano: Edizioni Charta

→  Selected articles and reviews 2017

Mabandu, Percy. ‘Clawing at the sublime’. Sunday Times, 15 January Mathabathe, Gontse. ‘Between love and dreams: Portia Zvavahera’s What I See Beyond Feeling’. ArtThrob, 23 January. http:// artthrob.co.za/2017/01/23/between-loveand-dreams-portia-zvavaheras-what-i-seebeyond-feeling/ 2016

Mashabela, Khanya. ‘Celebration and speculation: Koloane, Masamvu and Zvavahera’. ArtThrob, 5 September.

Mabandu, Percy, ‘Wayfinding: Portia Zvavahera’. ArtThrob, 1 August. http:// artthrob.co.za/2014/08/01/wayfinding/


Published by Stevenson © 2017 for texts: the authors © 2017 for works by Portia Zvavahera: the artist ISBN 978-0-620-75160-5 Cover  Handidi Kuzviona (details), 2016, oil-based printing ink and oil bar on paper, 238 × 140cm Co-ordination Design Photography Printing

Sophie Perryer Gabrielle Guy Mario Todeschini, Anthea Pokroy, Nina Lieska Hansa Print, Cape Town

CAPE TOWN Buchanan Building 160 Sir Lowry Road Woodstock 7925 PO Box 616 Green Point 8051 T +27 (0)21 462 1500 JOHANNESBURG 62 Juta Street Braamfontein 2001 Postnet Suite 281 Private Bag x9 Melville 2109 T +27 (0)11 403 1055 info@stevenson.info www.stevenson.info


Portia Zvavahera: I'm with You  

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