June 3, 2021–David Zwirner is pleased to announce the representation of the Zimbabwean artist Portia Zvavahera in collaboration with Stevenson gallery.
David Zwirner will present an exhibition of new work by Zvavahera in New York in the fall of 2021. Ndakavata pasi ndikamutswa nekuti anonditsigira, the artist’s first solo presentation in Europe, was featured at the gallery’s London location in 2020. Zvavahera’s work will also be a part of Program, David Zwirner’s global livestreaming event on June 10.
In her paintings, Zvavahera gives form to emotions that manifest from other realms and dimensions beyond the domains of everyday life and thought. Her vivid imagery is rooted in the cornerstones of our earthly existence—life and death, pain and pleasure, isolation and connection, and love and loss. These deeply personal visions are realized through layers of vibrant color and ornate, veil-like patterns that the artist builds up into palimpsestic surfaces through a combination of expressive brushwork and elaborate printmaking techniques. Zvavahera’s compositions draw on particular traditions of figuration in past and present Zimbabwe, first expressed in the work of Thomas Mukarobgwa in the 1960s, while also pointing to postwar artistic practices that probe the nature of the human condition.
Joining an intimate process of self-reflection with her singular perspective, Zvavahera, in the words of curator Gabi Ngcobo, “speaks of feeling both challenged by the differences in her understanding of spirituality and optimistic about the recognition of a shared resistance against the powers that have threatened our humanity. Through her mind’s eye Zvavahera transports us deeper and deeper towards our true selves. You can escape but you’ll always need to come back.”1
“The gallery is pleased to be working with Portia Zvavahera. Portia’s art was a big discovery for me last year. I find it intensely personal and spiritual. 2020 was such a trying year for everyone, but a highlight for me was presenting her work in our London gallery for the first time. It was beautiful to see her paintings captivate the audiences, touching on universal experiences such as love and loss. I am excited and honored that we will now be able to continue to exhibit her unique work,” stated David Zwirner.
Portia Zvavahera was born in 1985 in Juru, Zimbabwe. She currently lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe. She studied at the BAT Visual Arts Studio, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, from 2003 to 2005. She then received a diploma in fine arts from Harare Polytechnic in 2006.
She has presented several solo exhibitions with Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg (2014–2020). Other solo presentations of her work include Under My Skin, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare (2010); I’m with You, Marc Foxx Gallery, Los Angeles (2017); and Walk of Life, Institute of Contemporary Art Indian Ocean, Port Louis, Mauritius (2020). She was invited to show her work as part of the Zimbabwean Pavilion exhibition Dudziro: Interrogating the Visions of Religious Beliefs at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.
Zvavahera’s work is held in the collections of the Johannesburg Art Gallery; Minneapolis Institute of Art; National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare; Pérez Art Museum Miami; The University of Chicago Booth School of Business; and the Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.