Cape Town

17 June - 5 August 2023
Portia Zvavahera
Pane rima rakakomba
Pane rima rakakomba

Portia Zvavahera, Pane rima rakakomba, 2023, installation view

STEVENSON is pleased to present Pane rima rakakomba, a solo exhibition of new paintings by Portia Zvavahera, marking her 10th year with the gallery.

The title of the exhibition is in Shona and translates as 'There’s too much darkness'. The artist created this body of work during her pregnancy and following the birth of her youngest child, amidst feelings of anxiety and disquiet. She writes:

When I say 'Pane rima rakakomba', it’s a spiritual thing, it’s the feeling of complete and total darkness, when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and you feel hopeless. I made these sketches when I was pregnant, when I was dreaming about rats and other creatures coming into my sleep. At the time I couldn’t even sleep with the lights off, so I wanted to translate that feeling and release it through this body of work.

With titles such as Hauvatore (You cannot take them) and Ndirikukuona (I’m watching you), Zvavahera’s figures are depicted in various states of precarity and entanglements with strife. Even though the horned beasts and rodent spectres that populate these images stem from nightmares and visions, in each work the artist counters menace with angelic beings that promise respite and triumph. A new recurring motif is the tree, rooted in the ground and spreading a protective canopy of leaves, increasingly abstracted into pattern, over the scenes of spiritual battle that unfold below. As she continues, ‘When I have bad dreams, I don’t just want to paint the bad parts because that is almost like celebrating that evil dream, so I put something positive in the painting so that it becomes like a prayer.’

Zvavahera’s characteristic expressive style combines ecstatic washes of ink with intricate linework. She employs a wax resist technique to create her complex repeating motifs, scraping away the wax drawing to reveal layers of glowing colour beneath, and making careful use of oil bar to emphasise particular forms, gestures and energetic connections.

This is Zvavahera’s eighth solo exhibition with Stevenson, and follows her participation in The Milk of Dreams, the main exhibition of the 59th Venice Biennale.

The exhibition opens Saturday 17 June, 10am to 1pm.