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Mutenga in Zvimhingamupini exhibition

BY NYADZOMBE NYAMPENZA

VISUAL artist Evans Mutenga explores the personal psycho-spiritual world to uncover disillusionment and frustration through his solo exhibition titled Zvimhingamupini at Village Unhu in Harare.

Loosely translated, Zvimhingamupini means obstacles and in the native Shona language, the word carries a sense of militant confrontation.

The word suggests unforeseen, deliberate action by others to hinder personal progress. Implied behind the statement is a belief that everybody was born to
succeed.

Mutenga’s exhibition features multimedia pieces of various sizes on paper, and canvas. The composition involves drawing, painting, and collage in one piece.

Some artworks are in his signature style that includes newsstand banners, and peeled off layers.

The result is more depth, and enriched storylines.

Faces, nude bodies, and social scenes, are interspersed with religious iconography such as cherubs, halos, and crucifixes.

The vibrant colours are eye-catching and meaningful.

On a large piece titled “Gloomy”, a half-naked young woman sits in a bunched-up posture with strategically crossed legs and arms.

Her colourful leggings provide symbolic cover as they sculpt her curves into relief.

The clearly despondent woman is exposed and vulnerable.

It looks as if she has given up. The obvious lack of action may be due to defeat from challenges in the form of zvimhingamupini (obstacles).

Dates inscribed on the piece show that it has been work in progress from 2018 to 2021, which may speak to a persistently hostile environment.

The title is an understatement of women’s desperate circumstances.

Mutenga professes that the theme was inspired by personal dramas and conflict.

His characters are not free of responsibility. Their gestures of apathy and guilt own up to personal responsibility and unforced choices.

A lot of young people would relate to this struggle. Many Zimbabweans have been relegated to morally and legally questionable side hustles because of zvimhingamupini.

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