Admire Kamudzengerere and Wallen Mapondera are two such artists, who with the help of art dealer Julie Taylor, are looking towards South Africa as a market for their artworks.
Born in Zimbabwe in 1980, and having worked in the UK as a top executive for Google before relocating to South Africa, Taylor is determined to introduce Kamudzengerere and Mapondera to the South African art market.
She believes they have what it takes to make an impression, and if her efforts to raise R35 000 for the two artists to complete an arts residency programme at Assemblage Art Studio in Newtown and the Point of Order at Wits University, succeeds, half the battle would have been won.
The residency will culminate in the pair exhibiting at the Turbine Art Fair, at Turbine Hall in Newtown, in July. The residency is due to start next month.
To raise funds, Kamudzengerere and Mapondera are offering their artworks for a donation.
To donate, see the Thundafund page at www.gunsandrain.com
Mapondera said: “The dire economic situation in Zimbabwe has led to a steady flow of Zimbabweans seeking refuge in most southern African countries.
“Many left jobs in search of greener pastures and artists are no exception in this predicament. No one puts effort in importing quality art material as there are few artists left in the country.”
Zimbabwean art is well known, especially the stone sculptures which are of global quality.
Taylor said she first learnt about Kamudzengerere and Mapondera’s work through the Gallery Delta in Zimbabwe, where both of them trained.
“Over the past few years, we have got to know each other, and eventually decided to pursue this collaboration. I love their work and find it very powerful.”
Taylor had a safe career as a corporate executive for Google, but chose art instead and resigned from her job a few years ago.
“I’ve been passionate about contemporary art for a long time, and realised some years ago that the internet could potentially change African artists’ lives. The idea for Guns & Rain came about when I saw the hardships endured by Zimbabwean artists in the mid-2000s, and I started exploring the internet as a platform to raise awareness about their work.
“I work with artists from across the region, mostly South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana,” Taylor said.
“I drew the art dealer to the fact contemporary African art is doing well in Europe and the US.
“It has increasingly attracted attention over the past three years. I think in part it is linked to the increasing international interest in Africa’s economic resources and business opportunities. That said, there needs to be better general education about African art, both within and outside the art world.
“Historically, many misconceptions have prevailed.”
Kamudzengerere and Mapondera are excited about the opportunity in South Africa.
“I hope to benefit from the South African artists’ network through discourse, conversations and dialogues. I am also interested in the history of the country, the people and the art. However, I would want to meet Zim migrant artists and artists from other parts of Africa,” said Mapondera.
“I worry about violence and xenophobia though.”