SMAC Gallery | Gareth Nyandoro

Nine hundred years of time and space, and I've never been slapped by someone's mother. Well, you're very similar heights. Maybe you should wear labels. Oh, I always rip out the last page of a book.

I visited SMAC Johannesburg this week.

SMAC gallery at 19 Keyes Ave Rosebank is exhibiting the work of Gareth Nyandoro until the 19th October. Gareth lives and works in Harare Zimbabwe and trained as a print maker. The title of the show “Juggling Skills Street Slang and Guerilla Tactics Kuchekacheka” in my view refers to his artmaking and the ways people are trying to make a living in the extremely difficult informal business environment. His works are ink on paper mounted on canvas or board.

“Musika Wababa Vamike”

You see this piece as you enter the gallery. It is a large paper and canvas piece sliding onto the floor where you would normally stand to view. The way the piece is hung depicts how the informal street traders make a living, sliding onto the streets. He cuts the paper with a blade and repurposes the pieces referring to the slide in the economy and the difficulty to make ends meet in Zimbabwe.

For me the most interesting aspect of his work is his manipulation of language. From the gallery pamphlet I read; “Kuchekacheka alludes to Nyandoro’s training as a printmaker in Zimbabwe. While the word kucheka means ‘to cut’ (an action associated with many forms of printmaking), kuchekacheka employs the reduplication process in a way that expands this word beyond the simple act of cutting. Inventively, this word alludes to the lingo of the Harare streets as well as the logic of recycling that feeds into ways of making a living (often in the street) in a ‘kukiya-kiya economy’.

More than just reflecting the action of cutting into paper, Nyandoro’s kuchekacheka is about reusing materials, and in doing so it is about redefining meaning; reinventing what it means to be, to survive and to thrive. In the kuchekacheka process, paper is treated as a piece of lino, a plate or a woodblock and is sliced with a blade. However, instead of producing a printed impression from the remaining image and discarding the fragments that have been cut out, the pieces of paper ‘waste’ are returned to the artwork as part of a process of gluing, staining and layering.

The very act of naming this technique becomes part of the improvisational process, as naming and making—renaming and remaking—are fundamentally entangled in the shifts of street slang, the slide of the economy, and the inventive logic of ‘making do’.

As Nyandoro’s artistic process seems to reveal the troubled urban situation in Harare, it also registers and projects an elusive yet possible state of healing and repair that many Zimbabweans tenaciously aspire to.

“In my garden”

Here again he has sliced and combined the pieces to disrupt the image. The corn grower has a very tenuous grip on his crop.

“Tailor Made”

“Revolution Will Be Televised”

Close-up of “Five Star Cornices”

“Five Star Cornices”

“The butcher”

“Butchery Now Open”

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.