Two of Zimbabwe’s renowned stone sculptors will showcase their talent at the 9th Beijing International Arts Biennale which will start next month.
The Beijing International Art Biennale, which has taken place since 2002, promotes global harmony through contemporary artwork exhibitions. More than 114 countries will be represented at the Biennale, with more than 5,000 artists showcasing their visual artworks. David Ngwerume, one of Zimbabwe’s most decorated artists, who is known for his pandemic-inspired art, will showcase one of his sculptures at the Biennale.
The piece, titled “Into the third wave” depicts a woman receiving a COVID-19 jab against a wave symbolizing the pandemic currently ravaging the world. Ngwerume said art transcends culture and speaks directly to our common humanity, which makes it a perfect medium and in raising public awareness.
“It can depict the past, the present, and the future, hence in this COVID-19 pandemic, as an artist, I found it so plausible to the effect that I should produce something which gives an alternative message besides the advertising, the digital media and everything else,” Ngwerume said.
Since the beginning of this year, Ngwerume — who is also an attorney — has used much of his time carving pandemic prevention messages on stone.
“Art captures the moment, it gives a sensation unto everything, and it gives a deeper message than anything else in messages of awareness,” he said. The renowned artist said by hammering anti-pandemic messages on stone, his art has managed to resonate well with the public. The artist is adamant that participating in the Biennale will enable him to penetrate into the Chinese market.
“I am looking so much forward, and I am very positive that my art is going to make waves in China. It is going to be seen far and wide, and it presents a different message with a different tone around any other sculptures that have come from Zimbabwe, so I am so grateful to be welcomed by China through this sculpture piece,” he said.
Dominic Benhura, another renowned stone sculpture who has been in the industry for nearly four decades, will also showcase his piece of a mother and a child titled “Proud Mother”.
“This piece basically celebrates life, which is part of the Biennale captions which we were supposed to bring out because they want to promote innovation and creativity, and also the theme was light and life,” he said.
Benhura, who has showcased his art in China, is also looking forward to boosting his footprint in the Asian country through the exhibition.
“Having an opportunity again to showcase in China, especially at this level, where about 100 countries will be exhibiting there gives me a much wide audience to see my work, and the work from Zimbabwe, so I am really excited about it,” he said.
Benhura’s work has been included in many major exhibitions both in Zimbabwe and internationally. He is widely known for his exceptional ability to portray human feelings through form rather than facial expression.
Zimbabwe’s Acting Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Sekai Nzenza said the Beijing Biennale creates a platform where Zimbabwe’s image becomes known because of its unique art.
“So really this opens doors for Zimbabwean artists so that we as a country also recognize the value of art, and art as business, and art as an expression of our identity, so it really encourages Zimbabweans to reach out to the Chinese market and also the Chinese market to begin, if they haven’t started already, to recognize the uniqueness of Zimbabwean art,” she told Xinhua.
Nicholas Moyo, Executive Director at the National Arts Council of Zimbabwe, said art is media, hence its importance in raising public awareness.
“It is a tool of communicating and transmitting information, whatever information it is, and the artist becomes the conduit of particular socio-economic issues that may be relevant at a given time. And in the time where we are, it has become necessary that as societies we come together in the fight against the pandemic,” he said.
Zimbabwe is widely known for its stone sculpture. Stone artists use basic tools to carve expressive art into blocks of mostly serpentine stone into realist and abstract forms conveying emotions and struggles of everyday life.