And, most of all, ideas come from confluence – they come from two things flowing together.
– Neil Gaiman –
Like many art lovers that saw Portia Zvavahera’s recent show at Stevenson Gallery (Cape Town) I was taken by the authenticity and directness of the Zimbabwean painter’s work. Perhaps these sensibilities are particularly present because Zvavahera apparently waits for imagery to come to her.
An article by Lucinda Jolly explains that Zvavahera remains ‘totally present’ as she anticipates what may present to her via dreams, prayers and emotions. I find this an intriguing as well as a meaningful approach. I am reminded of Paul Klee who wanted his work to come only from ‘within himself’ being ‘suspicious of any attempt to try to do something not of one’s own time.’ Like Klee – who fascinates me – Zvavahera seems refreshingly detached from contemporary ideas of artistic success where creating ever-emerging bodies of work are expected. Her unfolding happens as it does; her ideas reveal themselves to her as they do in their own time. Afro-time does not equate clock-time.
I keep coming back to the way such ideas are generated. The well-known author Neil Gaiman is of the opinion that ideas are formed when two separate things flow together. Confluence is allowing the flow from various sources to amalgamate into one. Allowing in itself – a fluid and especially receptive state – is something that Zvavahera appears to be good at. Experiencing her canvases I become detached of time, culture, geography and belief systems. Most of all, though, I become detached from creative contemporary expectancy.
In my own work I am at a place where, like Zvavahera, I am allowing for imagery to come to me. This requires not only patience but also belief in a process that has not yet become visible to my conscious self. Where my patience fails me, however, is in the expectancy of ‘pairing’ with a secondary flow or secondary source that, like a river, could potentially create confluence.
After all, confluence can be understood as ‘the place where two rivers flow together and become one larger river.’
This is potential place.