Gareth Nyandoro: Paper Cut

19 February - 19 March 2016

Tiwani Contemporary now represents Gareth Nyandoro and is pleased to present his first solo exhibition in the UK. Nyandoro is known for his large works on paper, which often spill out of their two-dimensional frame and into installations including paper scraps and objects found in the markets of Harare, where he is based. The main source of inspiration for Nyandoro’s work is the local markets of Harare, with their buzzing stalls, loud hawkers, frenzied buyers and enticing displays of goods. A keen observer of human behaviour, Nyandoro admires the everyday artistry involved in the displays, where colour, shape, desirability and price all contribute to the competition for the most attractive - and best-selling - stall. His interest in objects and commerce translates into the manifest materiality of his work, but also into its iconography, as he closes in on details from the marketplace: a single shoe here, a hanging shirt there, a batch of designer sunglasses, a lollipop. Nyandoro prepares the various elements of his compositions separately, before assembling them on large sheets of canvas. The result is a collaged aesthetic, suggesting the makeshift appearance of the market. The work is at times abstract, with discarnate human figures barely visible, submerged by grids of inky scratches and checkered patterns: a reflection on the ephemeral, transitional nature of the marketplace and its main actors, rendered through portrayals of everyday experience.

The artist's unique technique was inspired by his training as a printmaker: upon preparing an etching, Nyandoro realised he was equally as interested in the engraved copper plate as he was in the print. He thus developed a distinctive working method, derived from etching: using sharp blades, he cut-draws into large pieces of paper and sponges ink onto the surface before removing the top layer of paper with tape. Only ink that is trapped within the deep paper cuts remains visible, along with coils of scrap paper, which Nyandoro often collages onto the work or leaves sprinkled on the floor as indicators of his labour-intensive process. Nyandoro has named his technique 'Kucheka cheka', after the infinitive and present tense declinations of the Shona verb cheka, which means 'to cut'.