Kudzanai-Violet Hwami

Patchwork glimpses of memory, colour and culture.

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami (she/her) was born in 1993 in Gutu, Zimbabwe, and now lives and works in London, UK.

Did you know?

At 26 years old, Hwami became the youngest artist to ever show at the 2019 Venice Biennale. Her work referenced the poem Soko Risina Musoro (The Tale Without a Head) by Herbert Chitepo. “I was struck by the poem’s emphasis on a land that has lost faith, resulting in a spiritual drought.”

Exhibitions

A 2019 exhibition at London’s Gasworks referenced the distance between Zimbabwe and the UK – (15,952km) via Trans-Sahara Hwy N1. The show symbolised “the distance between places and people geographically, but also psychologically.” She’s also exhibited at major institutions across the world.

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Collaborations with this artist

Practice overview

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami paints colourful portraits full of energy and life. She draws from her experiences living between multiple places – Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK. Family photographs and found images tend to be her starting point. Hwami then paints these into abstract backdrops and domestic scenes. Crucially, she separates the figures from their original context – a symbol of displacement. Finally, splashes of saturated colour are added over the top. The finished paintings are almost patchwork. Individuals, objects and pools of pigment layer on top of each other. Just like the disparate memories and experiences they represent.

In the paintings, modernist and contemporary influences mix. Specifically, Hwami cites assemblages by Robert Rauschenberg and the line work of Jean-Michel Basquait. By contrast, she also works from images and videos on social media. For Hwami, the internet holds personal meaning. When she was a teenager, it enabled her to find communities. This was essential when she felt isolated living between different places. “I found it more comfortable to escape and exist in cyberspace,” she describes. Touching and vivid, Hwami’s paintings compile bits and pieces of a life lived – an exploration of in-person and online identity.



“I don’t think in a linear way – I have images and random words running through my mind.”Kudzanai-Violet Hwami