Tiwani Contemporary is one of a growing number of galleries in London, New York and beyond that specialise in representing ‘African art’, a geographical tag that seems to influence our expectations of an artist’s work much more so than other places of origin. However, since being established in 2011, Tiwani Contemporary has admirably focused on internationally presenting artists from Africa and its diaspora based on the strength of their practice rather than any sense of ‘otherness’.
The gallery’s most recent signing is this month’s artist to watch Gareth Nyandoro, a Zimbabwean artist known for is large works on paper that spill out of their two-dimensional frame and into larger installations on the floor around them. Having studied in his native country, he has quickly established himself on the global stage, representing his country at the 56th Venice Biennale, a completing residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam last year and soon to be exhibiting at Modern Art Oxford as part of their Kaleidoscope 50th anniversary celebrations.
What has caught our attention in his latest show is the way he presents the street life and iconography of his home city, moving freely between styles including partial abstraction, collage techniques and etching. He is not an artist to exoticise his work for a western market and refers to this very ‘African’ context without being defined by it.
The scenes that feature in the artist’s work are often comprised of individual elements drawn on paper on the floor and collaged onto large canvases. They appear out of a field of scratched patterns, where in places the top layer of paper has been removed after it has been sponged with ink, leaving only the saturated cuts. Scraps from the cutting process are often layered back onto the work or left as coils on the floor as an indicator of his process. Nyandoro has named this technique ‘Kucheka cheka’, after the Shona verb cheka, which means ‘to cut’.