Zimbabwe Nkenya is best known for his work as a musician on acoustic bass and mbira, and music is what defines his work as a visual artist. His collages feature original drawings and rare photographs combined with imagery of African and African American musicians. Each piece exudes a dense rhythmic energy that echoes the best of the structured improvisation that characterized his work as a musician and composer. Nkenya has described his work as encompassing “all the music”. In 2009, when he experienced a massive stroke, Nkenya was actively pursuing opportunities to exhibit his work, which was exclusively exhibited in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is the first viewing of his work in the St. Louis area.
Nkenya and Seitu have known each other since the 1970’s when both were part of a rich milieu of St. Louis artists, including original members of the Black Artists Group (BAG). “I could dialog about the music with Zimbabwe like very few people could, who were not musicians,” says Seitu. “I had conversations with Zimbabwe that I couldn’t have with anybody else, period. That is why it was so devastating to me personally when he had the stroke. When I am around Zimbabwe we connect, and not just through the music either; political, historical and cultural worlds too.”
Seitu is a well known jewel of the contemporary arts culture in St. Louis. He came up at a time when the Black Arts and Liberation Movements were alive and thriving. Seitu's own revolutionary style, which can be classified as neo-surrealism, combines simple yet complex details, using bold colors and lyrical yet structured lines to create intricate tapestries that engulf the senses; taking viewers on a fanciful journey. “Zimbabwe’s inspiration and my inspiration are basically the same,” says Seitu. “My work is essentially music on canvas.”
Yeyo Arts Collective is taking a special interested in seeding a resurgence of the Black Arts Movement that influenced the work of both of these artists and their viewers. Seitu James Smith, Zimbabwe Nkenya and Yeyo Arts Collective welcome you: Friday, September 7, from 6:30 – 9 PM, 2700 Locust (two blocks west of Jefferson). Refreshments will be served and Nkenya’s CD’s, Seitu’s paintings and prints, and a variety of fine art and craft items will be available for sale. For more information call: 314-995-9570.