Narrative At Modzi: Back and Forth Strokes With Lawrence Chikwa

Mr. Chikwa installing the exhibition

As Told by Arts Minion Kempson Ari Kani

As I walked through the gallery, the art immediately struck a chord with my core values but also communicated a moving treatment of the times. The gracious artist to whom this vast repertoire that spans over a decade begun by thanking me for attending his exhibition, an experience which was humbling but also as liberating as the various displays and installations of this grand exposition. The conversation around it was equally as gripping as was the gentle manner in which the impresario narrated some of the pieces of his work and let me in on some of the hidden nuggets and additional layers of the expose. The virtuoso is neither imposing nor pompous, as his work speaks and permeates the various layers of the audience. The majority of the exhibition is in open air, which is refreshing and allows the natural light to illuminate the whole show without the artificial trappings of modern galleries, which sometime crowd and dilute the message of art.

The gallery and exhibition at night

Most mainstream galleries refuse to show this distinguished artists work because some of his pieces go against convention and what is acceptable to the more commercial houses and “refined” audiences. That too in itself is its own blessing, as the work receives audience with the enlightened and the narrow minded bigots with a format and agenda which is less universal. For those of you who are not familiar with Lawrence Chikwa or may have seen his work or signature on a piece or two at establishments such as the Alliance Français where he has also exhibited, his background and vast repertoire is reelected in his ongoing exhibition. The various uses of mixed media throughout this Back and Forth expose are reflection of the depth of his technique and acumen. Even more striking is the authenticity with which he approaches the various messages in his work without compromising his ethic or yielding to what is politically correct but still keeps current with trending topics.

Pieces such as The Immigrant are both interactive but also illustrate the ideal and the reality from a standpoint of the human condition. The Energy Crisis installation also resonates loudly with the current issue of load shedding and erratic water supply, a piece that need no further comment but speaks for itself. The Hour Has Come which is 2D collage of the second Republican HE. Dr. Chiluba is a fascinating piece with acute detail in its various layers, one sure to captivate and also reminiscent of times gone by. The title piece or the piece you see on the expos poster is a complex piece in its composition, structure and presentation. It goes beyond the history of the country it is set in and narrates a story familiar to the entire continent where gold is just a metaphor or depicts something greater that was taken. It beckons the question where do the resources go and also articulates the brutal continuation and perpetual exploitation of the mother land.

Lawrence Chikwa’s art is a poignant reflection of our culture and elements that have affected us as a people, a community, a nation and a continent at large. There is a common thread through the various paintings and installations that challenges ideals such as tradition, politics, religion, colonialism, education, gender and recent and pressing issues such as the current national energy and water crisis and migration. The body of work which spans as far back as 2009 is beyond phenomenon and transcends convention with a very deliberate thought provoking agenda. Kudos and applause to Modzi for using their platform as a stage and having the foresight of picking a national heritage in Chikwa, who’s body of work is befitting to be exhibited as the inaugural exhibition and testament to the institutions agenda. Back and Fourth is a triumph and a must if you love art, something to be heralded by all who can access. The exhibition is free and closes on 21st May 2016 with a talk from the man behind the art Mr. Chikwa. Support local art, renew your mind and escape the hustle and bustle of the rat race and routine by visiting Modzi Arts. A catalog of the entire exhibition can also be downloaded from the Modzi Arts website The exhibition awaits you as you read this. Go!

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