MULLING OVER ART: Lechwe celebrates women

The Lechwe Trust Art Gallery in Lusaka is currently showing an exhibition titled “Women artists from the lechwe collection exhibition 2019” in which it showcases 41 artworks by over 30 women dating from 1970 to 2019.

While some possibly will argue the relevance of viewing artists through the lens of gender, this all-women’s show could be deemed timely considering we are in the era of the global #MeToo movement which raises consciousness about the need for women’s voices in all aspects of society to be heard. It can be read therefore as an exhibition that endeavours for gender equity and surely, that is a good thing.

Alex Nkazi, the gallery’s curator strengthens this observation by pointing out the dominance of men within society.

“If you look at the working world including the arts, its dominated by men, so such an exhibition is important. But also, when it comes to art, if you look at aesthetics, women have a better understanding of balance and beauty than men, even in a home? If there is no woman you can tell,” he says.

Nkazi also suggests that genres such as sculpture, are dominated by men perhaps because of what he observes as the physical aspect of its production processes. But then again, this exhibition has a few examples of the same, that prove women can do anything a man can do, even sculpting hard woods.

Cynthia Zukas OBE, the Lechwe Trust chairperson whose brainchild the exhibition was, revealed that it was something she had in mind for next year but decided to bring it forward after realising how many women’s works were actually in the collection. The gallery is not able to show everything at the same time, so this particular show is a preamble for a bigger rendering that will be displayed next year.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking of for next year because we have a number of top women artists in the collection and when we started going through the catalogue and looking for women’s names what was interesting, I think there were quite a lot, not only Zambian women but artists who had been here for a workshop or had lived in Zambia for some time,” she says.

The display is a wide-ranging combination of different genres and themes timelines. From Gabriel Ellison’s beautifully mundane “Gabriel Ellison, Rainy Day in Old Kabwata” (1970) which reminds us of a Lusaka of the past to Milumbe Haimbe’s Science Fiction induced “Phallus” (2010) which borders on BDSM and suggests where Lusaka might be going, the show is a must see.

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