A journey of silent pain

2009-12-01 00:00

ZIMBAWEAN artist Nicky Chovuchovu­ will be showing new — and very personal — work in his exhibition Tapelo, at the Margate Art Museum on KwaZulu-Natal’s south coast.

“In this exhibition is an installation — a suitcase bursting with clothes and stuff, then tied with barbed wire — in which I am telling my story as a man, who is exiled in South Africa. It tells a story of the things that I go through,” Chovuchovu, who lives in Durban, said.

Asked what the suitcase represents, he said: “This suitcase is the one that every refugee carries when they leave their home to go to a place where they have to start life afresh, usually with no family.

“It is a silent pain which you cannot share with your acquired friends. In this country, to many, you are just an inconvenience. You have to keep quiet because you are a visitor with no so-called rights.

“Some people treat you like an economy-class citizen and you just have to accept it. No one wants to know that you actually have a home, but because of circumstances that are beyond your control you had to leave a job, a circle of friends, a fiancée and a lifestyle, to take up third- class citizenry in this republic.

“This suitcase shows the burden I silently carry until I can go back home and finally be someone again.”

Alongside this new work Chovuchovu will be exhibiting the colourful township expressionist paintings for which he has become well known.

“The paintings are of stories about the people whom I have come across in the townships of KwaZulu-Natal,” he said. “I am fascinated by the vibrant­ ghetto life, having been born and bred in the ghetto in Harare. So when I came to settle in South Africa it was only natural that I looked for a place to stay in a ghetto.

“In a way life is the same [as in Harare]. There are no secrets as everyone­ wants to know what you are up to. The people I paint stories of are people who might not have a lot of vanity, but they enjoy life nevertheless, which makes it easy for me to tell their many stories.”

Tapelo can be seen at the Margate Art Museum at Dan Pienaar Square, Vikings Road, Margate, from December 1 to January 21. Inquiries: 039 312 8392.

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