'Arise Spirit Within', 2019 by Portia Zvavahera courtesy of Stevenson Gallery

‘Talitha Cumi’ by Portia Zvavahera // Painting figures of spiritual transcendence

Talitha Cumi Aramaic for ‘Little girl, arise’ references the Biblical narrative in which Jesus brings a young girl back to life, found in the Gospel of St Mark. Portia Zvavahera’s new set of paintings takes its genesis from the world of slumber as has previously been done. Inner conflict and desire to transcend. The new paintings reflect a thirst for spiritual upliftment and a break from the shackles of human pain.

The symbol of the bull comes into play as a duality showing both a force of oppression and an inspiration which bridges the pathway towards spiritual growth. The artist states, “I know there’s going to be a battle in the future when I see a bull in my dreams. When the beast is around I pray more. He is the problem but also the solution.”

Consumed by an aura of gleaming lines the focal figure in many of Zvavahera’s depictions rises up indicating a protective presence and influences that exalts.

Deep purple. An upside-down figure. A mouth stained red – blood red. A pale blue face. The figure held together by circular line work. Another figure takes to the sky gracefully while others are built up from patterns of yellow and turquoise.

Talitha Cumi is Zvavahera’s sixth solo exhibition with Stevenson following Take Me Deeper at the Cape Town gallery in 2017. In 2018 Zvavahera participated in Hacer Noche (‘Crossing Night’) in Oaxaca, Mexico (2018); The Fabric of Felicity at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2018); Five Bhobh – Painting at the End of an Era at Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town (2018); We don’t need another hero, the 10th Berlin Biennale (2018); and a residency at 1 Shanti Road in Bangalore, India.

Zvavahera’s solo exhibition inaugurated the Stevenson Johannesburg’s new space which opened on Saturday 18 May 2019. Situated at 46 7th Avenue, Parktown North, it is accessible via Jan Smuts Avenue. Built as a family residence in the early 20th century the space has been shaped into a minimal holding beneficial for art viewing.

Talitha Cumi runs from 18 May – 12 July 2019.

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