Portia Zvavahera’s Dream Inspired Art

Portia Zvavahera is a contemporary Zimbabwean artist. Born in Juru, Zimbabwe, she lives in Harare. Between 2003 and 2005, she studied at the BAT Visual Arts Studio under the auspices of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. She also earned a diploma in Visual Arts from Harare Polytechnic in 2006 and was later an artist-in-residence at Greatmore Studios, Cape Town, in 2009. Zvavahera is one of the few, brave new artists crossing borders in the Southern African art scene. Her work displays an understanding of colour and the language of expressionism, with imageries rooted in religious narratives from both the Old Testament and indigenous African religions. At first sight, a viewer is confronted with her vivid use of colour and brushstrokes. In 2013, she was the recipient of the 10th Tollman Award for the Visual Arts. The same year, she represented Zimbabwe at the Venice Biennale. In this interview, she tells us more about her work and inspiration.

What inspired you to be become a painter?

I love art and only wanted to continue and develop my talent.

 Your paintings are of life-sized characters in bold and dramatic configurations, with physical and emotive strains splashed on the surface of your large canvasses. Where do you draw your influences from?
I am influenced by my dreams.
What is the underlying philosophy of your work and what future direction will you be embarking on?    

Dreams have considerable importance in life. I have a solid reason for accepting information conveyed through dreams because God declared to us that He would speak to us through dreams. Through experimenting and hard work, I will define my future direction.  

Please take us through your working techniques. 

I print and paint at the same time.

In a recent interview, you stated that you use painting and printmaking as media for interpreting your dreams. Please tell us some of the most vivid you’ve had, as well as your other sources of inspiration?

I am inspired by my dreams and life experiences.

In 2013, you received the 10th Tollman Award for the Visual Arts,and the following year, won the FNB Art Prize, exhibiting your work in a dedicated space at the FNB Joburg Art Fair. How did these prizes make you feel and what impact have they had on your career?

The prizes changed my perspective towards my work and made me realize why I could be considered for an award.

Stevenson Johannesburg is currently showing your solo exhibition tilted What I See Beyond Feeling, which will be your fourth with the gallery. What message do you hope to pass across with your work?

The scripture says, God will certainly rescue you from the snares of the hunter and from the destructive plague; He will shelter you with His wings and you will find safety under them. I believe that no situation stays forever whether good or bad, but in those difficult moments when we feel alone, we are protected under His wings and His presence always around us.

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