Quite an experience in Zimbabwe

Tom R. Chambers
Documentary Photographer/Visual Artist
The exhibition to the right was mounted to display the Contemporary Zimbabwean Stone Sculptures. Once tagged Shona Sculpture, this artform now has international influence with numerous pieces in collections throughout the world. Not only did I have the opportunity to touch these pieces, but also many of the artists behind them. What I think is interesting about this genre is the fact that a "white man", Frank McEwen (first Director of the Gallery) influenced its creation and growth through a series of workshops in the late 1950s and 1960s. The perpetuation continues with the Gallery's annual competitions and exhibitions, and its marketing is considerable through other venues.
The exhibition to the right was mounted to display the European/English Old Masters. Scupltures by Rodin seen foreground and to the left and right to create spatial interest ... Old Masters on the walls. This exhibition was special in the sense that I had hands-on centuries of artwork and interesting ... for me at least ... that pre-conceived ideas about Africa wouldn't have placed or mixed these pieces with those of Africa under the same roof. When I think about this, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe is probably one of the few exhibition spaces in the world that has its roots in this manner.
The exhibition to the right was mounted to display the contemporary Zimbabwean paintings and sculpture under the namesake of "Abstraction and Abstract Expressionism." Again, this exhibition was also interesting, since most of the work stemmed from White Zimbabweans. The genre or nature of the work follows Western thought and concept, and seems to be anachronistic within pre-conceived ideas about Africa. Nonetheless, the work on display equals any other work within this genre.