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GARETH NYANDORO | Winner of OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices Art Award

09/28/2016

While Gareth Nyandoro’s vivid, abstract depictions of commercial life in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, have earned him international recognition, the response of his local audience remains paramount to the artist. His canvases depict the ephemera of everyday life — a pair of shoes, a bicycle, a rail of clothes — objects so familiar that they have become virtually invisible. “I try to recreate situations that people don’t see as important,” he says. “I want to show them what they are missing.”

Beneath the swirling chaos of Harare’s markets, his work evokes humdrum human interactions. Discernible figures dance in and out of view amid the frenetic compositions. “He is a keen observer of human behaviour,” says Maria Varnava, co-director of Tiwani Contemporary, a London gallery that represents international emerging and established artists.

“The arrangement of objects I find on the street [in Harare] is an artwork in itself,” Nyandoro says. “[The traders] are very conscious of how they arrange their stalls and the objects on them. It’s very artistic for me.”

“He is part of a generation of exciting young artists, like Virginia Chihota and Portia Zvavahera, who are bringing Zimbabwe to the forefront,” says Varnava. Nyandoro agrees: “There is a lot of stuff happening here because of the economic hardship — people are making really important work. Zimbabwe is booming with creativity.”