Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea is pleased to host Zumbani, the first Italian solo show by artist Tafadzwa Tega. In occasion of this exhibition, the Zimbabwe-born artist presents a series of big- sized canvases featuring mostly his family and friends. A personal journey exploring macro-themes related to the human condition, such as cultural memory, religion, politics and tradition.
The name 'Zumbani' literally refers to a type of herb that naturally grows in the artist's homeland, and that it is considered, since ancient times, endowed with healing powers, and also kept as a lucky charm. The herb undertakes a symbolic value in the work of the artist, but also brings hope and defence against the ongoing global pandemic. As a social element, Zumbani simultaneously belongs to the world of myth and realm, transferring its magical and scientific properties to those who hold the knowledge. Tradition is used by the artist as a reason to explore the connection with his family's origins, rooted in the narration of myth. Stories that aren't just analysed with a sense of nostalgia, but where the artist can take the right distances in order to understand its boundaries.
The series on display mixes different languages in always vibrant colours, that open a profound conversation between its subjects, their stories and the multicultural environment whom the artist is an integral part. A similar use of colour that shows the passion that burns Tega while confronting his ties: the models are invited to his studio, often in their Sunday dress, and then photographed posing so that he can study and later paint them. This method proves useful in consolidating his subjects' personal stories and to start at the same time new conversations.
The works explore stories of migration, claim for success and the role of the latter in African society. The deriving sense of failure and fear from crossing the borders of the homeland, and the kinship that shapes from tradition born from the origins left behind. Tales that hide a collective concern and at the same time push to exceed the prefixed narrative. Tega's subjects seem suspended in a tension between the uncertainty of the future and a strong desire of change, in a celebration of the present.
Tafadzwa Tega (born 1985 in Harare, Zimbabwe) currently lives and works in South Africa, where he moved in 2008. His artistic career started at the age of 10, inspired by his artist brother and uncle. Tega studied at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, where he showed his works for the first time. From 2012 he has showed in numerous galleries in South Africa, and many important private and public collections have acquired his works, such as the Spier Foundation and the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Fundacion AMMA, Mexico, and Fundacion para el Desarrollo de la Pintura (FCDP) in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain.
Courtesy Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea. Text: Francesco Cascino.