Search This Blog

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The ‘Small Works’ exhibition and a peep back at 2013

By Andrew Mulenga

The past year had a variety of entertaining exhibitions but one of the smallest was certainly one of the most enjoyable and also lucratively successful regardless of its hodgepodge of mainstream artists and devoted Sunday painters.

The “Small Works and Miniatures Exhibition” annually coordinated by passionate independent art promoter, Serena Ansley and her Red Dot Gallery at the Zebra Crossings Café in Lusaka outdid itself last year.

Nature's Nurture (oil on canvas)
by Nicole Sanderson
Organised just before Christmas, the show targets holiday shoppers and gift buyers eyeing that little present to send to a loved one or present as a gift in corporate circles. The latest edition attracted a total of 42 artists from Lusaka, Copperbelt, Livingstone and Zimbabwe who managed to squeeze over 200 small paintings, drawings and collages into the Café which beat the 176 pieces of the previous year in numbers but not in sales having sold only 34 pieces in total compared to the 64 sold the previous year.

In an interview last year, Ansley explained that she could not really put a finger on the slump in art sales for 2013 but was hopeful that this year looks promising and that the entire 2014 is fully booked with regards exhibition. She however speculated that the slump in sales could be attributed to numerous guesses.

“I think sometimes we get to a point where the generally small pools of collectors stock too much works by the same artists, a kind of market overload. But also there are more places to go to these days like 37d gallery which is doing quite well,” she explained.

Sunset over Matero (oil and mixed
media on canvas) By Chibesa Mubanga
he also suspects the increase in department stores that stock imported, mass-produced wall-hangings that have become a cheap alternative to interior decorating have also cut into a large slice of art sales and hinted that only intervention by art policy makers can help curb this and allow the hard working local artists to benefit in the lucrative sector.

She similarly hoped to see more local collectors as opposed to expatriates and tourists. Ansley who has about five years of experience in promoting visual arts through hosting monthly exhibitions at her Café observed that there are very few resident Zambian collectors and they may only amount to 5 per cent.

Nevertheless, back to the “Small Works and Miniatures Exhibition” it was indeed a lively affair that can probably be described as busy. Maybe as busy as the Zambian art scene in 2013 in retrospect.

Second Creation (oil on canvas) by Caleb Chisha

January kicked off with a solo exhibition of landscapes from the Muchinga escarpment by Quentin Allen at the Café. The following month Africa Development International, a non-profit organised Ulendo an exhibition that featured a group that mainly comprised late Friday Tembo’s protégés at the Alliance Francaise in Lusaka.

The same month the Zebra Crossings Café hosted Hidden Talents Revealed… a group exhibition by upcoming artists.

March saw Canadian artist and scholar Wendy Dobereiner give a talk to an enthusiastic crowd of artists at the Henry Tayali gallery in the Lusaka Showgrounds and the same month five Livingstone-based artists exhibited in Cho Chise at the Zebra Crossings Café.

Friends ii (acrylic on paper)
by Anthony Bumhira
In April, the Dutch donated their entire collection of contemporary Zambian art to the Lechwe Trust and Mwamba Mulangala held Point of View a sold out solo exhibition at the Alliance Francaise in Lusaka, the same venue Livingstone’s Firoz Patel would exhibit the following month.

May was a busy month with Laura Chimowitz showing at the Zebra Crossings Café, the Visual Arts Council hosting Africa My Africa group exhibition at the Henry Tayali gallery while the 37d gallery in Kabulonga showed Movement-Momentum an exhibition of work by upcoming artists.

June however, was a relatively slow month with Belinda Ross’s Under a Zambian Sky solo exhibition of landscapes at the Zebra Crossings Café being the only notable show and the following month, the Lusaka 100 committee presented a lucratively disastrous centenary exhibition celebrating 100 years of the capital that was exhibited at Manda Hill.

Father Who ii (acrylic on canvas)
by Mulenga Mulenga
In August the Choma Museum and Craft Centre hosted Graphic Art of Zambia a historic anthology of the genre and its artists from the 1960s until today. We also saw the Green Elly, a massive wire and steel rod sculpture of an Elephant that was hauled through Livingstone and placed at the city’s civic centre by the Kachere Art Studio as part of its Funta Funta environmental awareness art brand days before the opening of the 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly, an event that would have Kamulanga, an exhibition by Zambian artists from various provinces held at the Livingstone National Museum.

And although there was not much to see in terms of exhibitions in the month of September, the Lusaka National Museum through its education department hosted the Kundwe Art Talks, a series of engaging public lectures on art by various artists and creative practitioners.

In October the Njase Girls murals, eight, life-sized paintings by the late Emmanuel Nsama received a much needed facelift by artist William Miko and VAC held its annual Independence Exhibition at the Henry Tayali Gallery.

Nature's Nurture (oil on canvas)
by Nicole Sanderson
In November, the Intercontinental Lusaka hosted 49 Years and Above an exhibition of work by seasoned artists organised by the Twaya Art Gallery and put together by art critic, Roy Kausa. The same month, Quentin Allen returned to the Zebra Crossing Café with another solo entitled Trees. The Zambia Art & Design show held at the Lusaka Showgrounds within the Polo fields also proved to get bigger and better in 2013 providing one of the most exciting all round events in years.
In December the Start Foundation organised a group of established artists and 31 underprivileged children to give us a Christmas tree made of 9,000 discarded plastic bottles at Arcades Shopping Mall in Lusaka. The same month Patrick Mumba held a solo exhibition at the Intercontinental Lusaka, VAC hosted the Artmas group exhibition and we also witnessed the Zambia Open University 1st Degree Show at the Lusaka National Museum. We can only wait with excited anticipation to see what 2014 has to offer.

No comments:

Post a Comment