In “Paper Cut,” Gareth Nyandoro Takes an Abstract Stroll Through the Markets of Zimbabwe

Since representing the Zimbabwe Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale, Gareth Nyandoro has enjoyed growing international acclaim. For “Paper Cut,” his first solo show in the UK, Nyandoro continues his focus on social construction, this time at Tiwani Contemporary in London.

Born in Zimbabwe in 1982 and now splitting his time between Amsterdam and the Zimbabwe capital of Harare, Nyandoro explores the relationship between human interaction and the urban environment. With “Paper Cut,” he draws inspiration from everyday experiences found in the markets of Harare, where the buzzing atmosphere of commerce captured his attention. Often abstract, his canvases are snapshots of these ephemeral moments.

Take, for instance, Sneaker Rako Pano! (brand new second hand sneakers for sale!) (2015), a large-scale canvas depicting a vibrant array of fashion commodities. Despite the work’s fragmented chaos and lack of perspective or orientation, it is highlighted by familiar shop items—coat hangers, T-shirts, Adidas shoes, and a Nike swoosh. What is usually a standard marketplace transaction has been transformed into a captivating work of art.

Nyandoro draws on his training as a printmaker in his work. With a blade, he cuts into paper to form stencils, which are then transferred onto the canvas with a sponge and ink. The artist calls this process “Kucheka cheka,” a phrase derived from the verb “cheka”—“to cut.” Using the throwaway materials from his cutouts, Nyandoro symbolically replenishes his works by introducing the disregarded material back into the art. His two-dimensional canvases often become three-dimensional installations as they flow onto the floor, incorporating the cutouts and various objects associated with the market.

For instance, in Unouraya Ipapo Ipapo (Parasite Instant Killer) (2015), the end of a mop and bunches of congealed paper represent the dirty market streets. This and other of Nyandoro’s other canvases combine different mediums—collage, installation, printmaking, and drawing—to transform such everyday strolls into new and refreshing perspectives.


—Lara Monro


Gareth Nyandoro: Paper Cut” is on view at Tiwani Contemporary, London, Feb. 19–Mar. 19, 2016.

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