Stephen Garan’anga

– Visual Painting –

“Work sustains us. It is how we meet our material needs, escape poverty and build decent lives.
Beyond our material needs work can give us a sense of identity, belonging and purpose”

Stephen Garan’anga
Location: Harare
Artwork statement: “Today, Africa is poorly industrialized: its land is largely virgin and dominated by a rural lifestyle, while its cities are unsustainable. The continent faces challenges in a future of work that entails technological advances, artificial intelligence, automation, and robotics. The skills of today will not match the jobs of tomorrow. Left to its course, the digital economy is likely to widen regional and gender divides. In my work, the crimson represents the catastrophe for developing economies in their quest to get where everybody is going. The variously sized grids of color represent the barriers for these economies to the intended destination.”

Q&A:

  • What was your experience with art as a child and growing up?

I was raised by my grandmother in the rural areas of the Marondera District and the high-density suburb of Mbare, as my mother worked in Harare, in the 1970s. My rural upbringing exposed me to various traditional methods and problem-solving skills. Making traditional art and functional objects using various media was the norm: soft wood carving, clay molding, wire toy crafting.

  • How did it evolve over time?

I was introduced to art as a subject at a former colonial elitist boys’ high school in Harare. After I graduated, my aunt introduced me to the BAT Visual Arts Studio of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, where my passion grew. I loved the daily, hands-on work. 

  • Who or what influences your art? How would you like your art to influence others?

My work expresses the themes of the world’s daily events and inequalities. African countries have suffered from slavery and colonization and had everything taken away from them, starting with their own cultures, traditions, and education systems. The enforced cultures and lifestyles have proved unsustainable.

Artwork title: The future of work in a green economy: A crimson tide for developing economies