Gresham Tapiwa Nyaude


'My paintings demand that the audience become familiar with Shona.  Shona oral tradition is densely populated with visual metaphor, making the environment come alive in imagination. This tradition of making the environment instructive and interpretative has been translated into contemporary reality of life in the high-density neighborhoods in the cities, especially in Harare. It is here that language evolves, transforms and is shaped by emerging identities of my contemporaries as they define their own Africa and their relationship with the world. This is my raw material and inspiration.

One of my favorite foundational proverbs has been, "Zino Irema rino sekerera warisingade". It is a proverb that has been modernized and adopted by contemporary slang to reflect our new reality. Literally it means, "A tooth is a fool, it smiles even at its enemy". What it speaks to is a reality where self-interest overtakes trust and bonds of friendship. This is a learnt culture of competition, poverty and greed that is an "acquired skill", a residue of colonial history which disrupted communal bonds in Zimbabwe, as well as contemporary political and social conditions.' 
Gresham's large scale works are on view at the 2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage at the New Museum, New York from 13th February through May 2018. Songs for Sabotage gathers 30 artists linked by their interest in disrupting the hierarchies of propaganda, power and control that shape our lives and cultures.