Zimbabwean sculptor’s pandemic inspired art gains worldwide acclaim
By Tafara Mugwara
Zimbabwean stone sculptor David Ngwerume’s Covid-19 pandemic-inspired art is receiving international acclaim due to its unique way of reflecting the current dynamics facing the world.
Since the beginning of this year, Ngwerume has used much of his time carving pandemic prevention messages in stone, capturing the world’s attention with his expressive artworks.
After gaining the spotlight on social media and in the international press with his unique approach to art, Ngwerume was recently commissioned by the African Union (AU) to make a piece that will be on display at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The sculpture, which he recently finished and is currently on display at his gallery in the capital of Harare, showcases a woman seated on a chair receiving a Covid-19 jab from a dismembered pair of hands.
Dubbed “the jab of faith,” Ngwerume said the piece “depicts the times we are in, where the world is moving toward vaccination of all citizens as a preventative measure against the spread and further spread of the coronavirus.”
The artist said with anti-pandemic messages chiselled in stone, his art has resonated well with the public.
“My art has managed to convince many and has managed to bring alternative messages to people around an issue which is at the centrepiece of this whole world, that is the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
“I strongly also feel that it has drawn a different kind of audience to the messages of awareness around this Covid-19 pandemic, and also it has brought altogether the new way of portrayal of such messages in stone sculpture at large.”
The sculptor said art is a reflection of perception and can convey feelings and moods in a way that words alone cannot accomplish.
“Art presents a very vernacular spectation, because when you make a sculpture piece you freeze time for a moment, hence it is something that brings an everlasting sensation,” he remarked.
The artist is confident that his work will continue making an impact worldwide.
“I am so hopeful that it reaches even further into communities, into societies and changes the perception of how the world is moving and influences us as humanity to look forward towards a unity of purpose through this popular consensus and usher our world into the next era,” he said.
Ngwerume is no doubt one of Zimbabwe’s most prolific expressionists as evidenced by his dynamic art.
Earlier this year, the talented artist made headlines after unveiling a piece titled “The New Normal” which draws inspiration from the reality the world is facing due to the pandemic. The piece, which is made up of black granite, showcases a woman, carved in the shape of the African map, wearing a headscarf and a surgical mask.
One of his notable pieces chronicles the times we are in where vaccines are being rolled out globally.
Titled “Piece to arms,” the sculpture aims to counter vaccine hesitancy. It features a half figure of a woman wearing a surgical mask presenting her shoulder to a pair of disembodied hands holding a syringe.
Another piece titled “Mask up” is a figure of the late pop star Michael Jackson wearing a hat, a mask, and a pair of gloves.
The piece “We are torn” portrays a woman sneezing into her arm to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Covid-19 themed artwork is part of a wider collection that Ngwerume is currently working on and will be exhibited this coming July at his gallery in the eastern Harare suburb of Greendale. IOL