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Smiles of clay

Epheas Maposa

9 October - 13 November 2021

EXTENSION until  4 December 2021

31 PROJECT is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of the Zimbabwean artist Epheas Maposa, with a selection of recent and unpublished paintings. 


With Smiles of Clay, Epheas Maposa speaks to us of the fluidity of beings, of these stories that repeat themselves in an often absurd and sometimes nightmarish ritornello where bodies struggle, come to a standstill and then start again. Smiles of Clay is the same man or woman that we follow from one canvas to another. It is the story of a frozen smile, as if sketched out, similar to an imprint cast in clay. 


" Traces of Francisco Goya and Théodore Géricault can be found in the work of Maposa in his treatment of haunting, weary figures, with their faces strained or heads hung low. Born in 1994, just three years before Zimbabwe’s economy began to freefall when the Zimbabwe dollar lost 71,5% of its value against the United States dollar, Maposa has only ever known a Zimbabwe that is fatigued, disheartened ‘waiting for rain’- like the title of Zimbabwean writer Charles Mungoshi’s 1975 book of the same name. Such metaphors of drought and hunger permeate Zimbabwean and African literature, capturing the malaise and paralysis of many conflict-zones and developing countries the world over – ‘waiting’ for relief, an abundance, incapacitated by the belief that some external force will bring change that may never come. "

Candice Allison, Johannesburg, September 2019



Epheas Maposa was born in Zimbabwe in 1994. He lives and works in Harare.


The body and the narrative are central in Epheas Maposa's work: half-man, half-animal creatures, with strong lines, evolving in surrealist and baroque universes.


Each work delivers a narrative on the edge, mixing in a dreamlike vein, drawn details and colourful motifs. A prolific narrator, Epheas Maposa uses the distortion of bodies and spaces to create disillusioned stories about the decay of Zimbabwe's social and political structure.

Epheas Maposa is self-taught. Drawing on the street, his primary source of inspiration, he joined Village Unhu back in 2013 where he received space and materials to work and develop his practice alongside other artists of the collective. From 2014 he exhibited at the National gallery of Zimbabwe, as well as at the Delta Gallery.


In 2017, 2018 and 2020 he participated in the FNB Joburg art fair and Investec Cape Town art fair. He also took part in several residency programmes between Johannesburg and Harare.

In 2019 he was awarded the second Emerging painting pan African art prize.




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