Curator reflects on Basel Art Fair

Raphael Chikukwa

Raphael Chikukwa

Tawanda Marwizi Arts Correspondent
Artistic discussions across the globe have been instrumental in the development of the visual arts industry in Zimbabwe and around the globe. The recent Basel Art Fair Conversations is one example of the discussions that has brought fresh dimensions to the arts industry. National Art Gallery of Zimbabwe chief curator Raphael Chikukwa, who attended the Basel Art Fair Conversations in Switzerland, said Zimbabwe’s visibility at these global art events is important because they shape the artistic thinking as well as creating opportunities to exchange, learn and network.

“We all want to be educated, to see art, to network and exchange ideas and these platforms provide that and many more other interventions around the world. These conversations gave me an opportunity to contribute to this contemporary art gospel and also learn issues that benefit our artistes back home,” he said. During the discussions, he said people were encouraged to give artists space to do their work.

“Artists are more resilient than institutions and we should value their contribution to society by giving them their creative space for they give us their work and for us as Zimbabweans to be part of such discussions is a positive development,” said Chikukwa.

“Another interesting talk was moderated by one of Africa’s great curator, Simon Njami, who posed a very important question: What can contemporary art do to have successful careers?” he added. He said artists were important as their work can change people’s lives and as well as the world views. “From the discussions I have leant that art is here to stay and every generation will contribute to it because those who came before us started it and the history of art is in the genealogy of all humans,” he said.

“The gospel of contemporary art and its practice that we keep preaching around the world is not a new thing as it started with our ancestors and it’s bigger. Think about art pilgrimage at the Dakar Biennale, Bamako Biennale, Joburg Art Fair, Cape Town Art Fair, Havana Biennale, Liverpool Biennale, 2015 Basel Art Fair, 56th Venice Biennale 2015, 1:54 Art Fair in New York, the coming Frieze Art Fair, and the coming Basel Art Miami 2015. Artists, art lovers, critics and scholars all making their way to preach and be preached about contemporary art,” he said.

Chikukwa thanked the organisers for giving him a chance to participate on such platforms and when he comes back home he will disseminate it to different artists for the benefit of the arts industry in the coun- try.

“The gospel will continue and the Basel Art Fair was great, I enjoyed it and thanks to the organisers who invited me. Well can we continue the question by Simon Njami at the Art: Basel Salon, “What can contemporary art do? On our conversations it was about building art institutions in Africa which is not a new thing and it is an ongoing process not only for us in Africa but for everyone around the globe,” said Chikukwa.

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