When humble and underground construction visual artist Johnson Zuze emerged on the Zimbabwean art landscape in 2008 as self-taught, his work had a piercing impact that any soul within its vicinity would not escape its engagement.
The sheer labour intensity in the work, the relegated and potentially harmful materials in use, and the haphazard wire and rubber interweaving intricacies encaging and suffocating bottles of consumed liquor and various high energy found objects left observers wondering about his imaginative power, the points of begin and finalisation of the work, the massage conveyance ability in such elegancy and all-sorts.
The work got him rewarded with a special prize on his debut professional exhibition themed "Enriching Women" at Gallery Delta Foundation for Art and the Humanities, which was also an art competition.
The complex small stature cultural practitioner, who keeps a low profile and rarely speaks in public has the kind of work that deters those vultures that live on plagiarism, the kind which only a great local few before him like Chris Musharu and the late Keston Beaton mastered and explored.
To date, just seven years into his professional career, his striking work has made him nationally visible and being rewarded with twelve awards and prizes at various local galleries which include the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare, where he was awarded the national Young Artist of Promise on the returning of the Zimbabwe Annual Exhibition in 2014 and the recent 2015 National Gallery auction at the Italian Ambassador's Residence, where he got a second prize in "Waste no Waste" theme.
Currently Zuze is showing some amazing pieces on his milestone debut solo exhibition at Koo Vha Gallery on 146 Enterprise Road in Highlands, Harare that opened a few days ago. The three dimensional show of mixed media constructions either grounded or hanging on the walls under the theme "Gutter Rainbows" has revealed that Johnson is moving on.
Majority of the exhibited pieces have taken a more simplified mode with one or two in the proverbial intricacies.
He narrated that he had worked full of nerves and under bottled pressure and was surprised to be highly commended for the show by the sizeable in attendance on the nippy evening. He expressed he had not consciously realised the technical changes in his work, as of late he was deeply engaged in the messages he was trying to convey more than anything else.
It is quite encouraging to learn that he had reached that natural artistic stage of evolution.
Zuze said "Gutter Rainbows" was about reflecting the beauty in the degenerated, the positives emanating from the negatives and the other way round.
Typical example is in astounding "Beautiful Destruction" that conveys some of the volumes of destruction cell-phones have on the modern day mankind's way of living.
On a lengthy clean wall with well displayed constructional work, a cell-phone of about a metre and thirty centimetres high hangs imposing boastful of three fairly big sparkling pieces of glass, an aged pentium one computer keyboard, an old wooden door seen through the glass at the back of the structure held intact by an underneath strong rusty carrier of a 1978 Peugeot 404 to complete the housing of a glamorous young female model dressed to kill in metallic green of a perfect slim Giro D'Italia racing mountain bike.
Her head hugely of the tough plastic housing of an electric iron is held up high turned slightly to the left, showing off her luminous oversized pink sun-glass frame with her colourful curly hair style of electronic data cables dripping down to her open arms' shoulders from a glittering silver crown seeming the one of the miss world winner. Her different children's bicycle handles arms not fully stretched permit the full exposure of her protruding bust of gaming handles off a slim oval bicycle frame diverging downward to construct her wide hips before proceeding to converge further down forming her glorious limbs.
The lower limbs disappear behind the old keyboard acting as the smart-phone's keypads at the base of the bigger frontal flat windscreen glass or the touchscreen of the cell-phone.
The side glass pieces are held in place by twisting and bending thin round bars wound untidily by dirty tying wire to the rusty ancient vehicle carrier base.
Other wires run up and down and across all the glasses.
Other cell-phone features are available in construction of various interesting found objects.
The lady in the cell-phone represents some of the things we get deeply engaged in, becoming oblivious of our particular spaces and environment, exposing ourselves to various hazards, social conflicts and other bad habits. In reality cell-phones have become such an important tool of our lives that we now struggle to do without and have more positives than negatives but Johnson Zuze is also very mindful of the potential destructions hence his will and ability compels him to convey the message to the masses through that they discard