This June, the National Gallery of Zimbabwe will facilitate a portfolio review exercise for 20 practicing visual artists. The review is meant to augment best practise by expanding the selection of artists for the organization’s exhibitions in future. Aside from this factor the exercise is meant to bring in fresh perspectives.

Artists are recommended to participate in this portfolio review exercise for a number of factors; the input of arts industry professionals such as curators, art writers and gallerists who have a grasp on contemporary taste is by far the most crucial element of the review exercise as it gives critical feedback to the artist in order to make their body of work bolstered and increased in appeal. Arguably, the entire concept of artistic integrity stands to be impugned greatly by the notion of creating art that responds to particular tastes and this is an issue to which most artists will find themselves at loggerheads with many an art institution.

It would be, however, inequitable, in the very least to suggest that within the display of the artist’s work, a means on the side of the gallery to increase the allurement of the body of work to translate to marketability must be established. Therein in lies the purpose of the portfolio review, as it seeks to identify the wide array of artists who are as diverse in style, technique, subject matter and genre. Upon review, there would be an inclusive record of this diverse pool of artists that can create opportunities for them with regards to their chosen, or rather specialty in practice.

It is of course, a crucial for the artist to understand that the process has to be as smooth flowing as possible. A portfolio review exercise does not need the actual, physical artwork and requires either a flash disc or compact disc with a minimum of five and a maximum 10 artworks, in JPEG format, produced within the last year. Alternatively, artists may provide a physical portfolio of photographs of their work, in colour, with details of the dimensions provided therewith.

Who reviews it?
The review process, as mentioned earlier on, is comprised of individuals who have depth and understanding in visual art. The components of the reviewing team often vary in opinion as the reviewers have different perspectives on the positive and negative inclinations of each portfolio. It is noteworthy that the object of taste is critical from a Curatorial standard, whereas the value in subject can have a different magnetism to a gallerist. With the numerous perspectives available to the artist, the review exercise can serve as an interactive means between the artist and the industry to manifest best practice and standards in the sector. With regards to how the artists’ practice develops from critical review exercises, what can serve to empower the artist is the appraisal element of the exercise. It is of note that in responding to exhibitions with open calls, artists tend to focus on the quantitative domain whereby they submit as much work as they can, to some extent lacking the appeal factor for buyers.
As observed through exhibitions such as the flagship Zimbabwe Annual Exhibition, from over four-hundred submissions of work, the adjudicators thoroughly review the most engaging, appealing and qualitative artwork to present a little under a hundred works. The jury may of course, via their diverse tastes, not come to agreement on many the selection of some artworks, they do however come to terms with the highest identifier of great work; quality. The portfolio review exercise thus provides an inclusive and interactive means for the artist to meet professionals whom can provide them with direct input concerning the quality of their work. Registration for the portfolio review exercise must be completed before June 6 and the review is set to take place on June 13. Artists who have never exhibited at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe are invited to submit their portfolios.





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