Zimbabwe has been a participant of the Venice Biennale since 2013 as a way of promoting Zimbabwean art and its artists.
The event, which takes place biennially has been presenting itself as a great market place for African countries such as Zimbabwe, to seize the opportunity to compete with the rest of the art world. It is not only a great place to market Zimbabwean grown talent, but it plays a significant role in the professional development of artists.
Over the last decade, millions of artists, curators, art dealers and art enthusiasts found themselves in Venice, as the art world uses this opportunity to view works at this big event which has earned the moniker “the Olympics of the Art World”.
According to The Economist (2017) The Biennale was initiated in 1895 marking the anniversary of the succession of King Umberto I of Italy and his consort, Margherita of Savoy. Twelve years later, in 1907 the national pavilions made their first appearance, Belgium being one of the first to partake.
Fast forward to the 21st Century, the Biennale now hosts around 83 National Pavilions and the Zimbabwe Pavilion has earned its place at this prestigious event. Participating artists are selected to represent their significant artists and they have presented their works to much wide audience. There is always also a main exhibition around a unifying theme, assembled by a specially selected curator.
Since the National Gallery of Zimbabwe commissions the Zimbabwean Pavilion, this has offered some of the country’s best and emerging artists to present ground-breaking artworks.
The Zimbabwe Pavilion has been present at the Venice Biennale since 2011 and will continue to do so as a way of taking Zimbabwean art to the world.
The Venice Biennale offers great benefits to artists who participate in their professional development. Their participation in a worldly event strengths their knowledgeability in art and how they can best execute talent that will last a century such as that of artists like Leonardo da Vinci. It offers enough exposure for local artists to make their work visible at a global scale. The Economist (2017) states that since the beginning, the Venice Biennale has always been closely associated with the art market.
Even though, retailing of artworks was banned in 1968, art lovers always feel intrigued to buy some of the artworks they find interesting as at some point in time the artists can later become way famous for their works to be affordable.
Each nation ensures that the selected artists represent the country enough to bring back a prize or hopefully for their artists to leave a mark in Venice. In 2016 the Zimbabwe Pavilion had four artists representing the nation.
The pavilion was curated by the National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s Chief Curator Raphael Chikukwa and commissioned by Doreen Sibanda, the Gallery’s Executive Director. It featured four artists; Admire Kamudzengere, Charles Bhebhe, Sylvester Mubayi and Dana Whabira.
The art market becomes bigger as it reaches a global platform, and that is one of the biggest benefits of being part of the Venice Biennale. Since artists are practically self-employed, participating offers them a ground for them to sell their works at a better price and get to profit from their executed talent.
The money can then be used for them to invest in their personal studios and commercial galleries.
The Venice Biennale is by far the biggest deal in the art world as it offers entrepreneurial development in art by helping artists establish their works at a global scale, shifting their passion into a profession that also uplifts the country’s economy.
The artist’s work becomes established and recognised better as he or she works with different organisations and events that support his or her works. The Venice Biennale offers itself as such an event.
The Zimbabwe Pavilion, at the Venice Biennale intends to extend the opportunity to Zimbabwean artists so that they engage the international art business centred on their desired field of art, ranging from photography, graphic art or painting.
To date, a total of 16 Zimbabwean artists have been offered the opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. It gives artists the chance to have their works exhibited in a highly recognised event and also get the opportunity to create business links with art dealers and well known business individuals as they might be beneficial in the long run.
The creative side of art can be competitive and usually has its peaks especially in a country with a developing economy.
It only allows professional artists to survive in the race, however, the Venice Biennale has been providing a platform for aspiring artists to build a strong ground for their profession.