In episode 75 of The Great Women Artists Podcast, Katy Hessel interviews one of the most exciting young painters working today, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami !!!!
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Born in Zimbabwe and raised between there, South Africa, and the UK, Hwami is fast becoming one of the leading artists of her generation. Having received her BA from Wimbledon College of Arts, where she was shortlisted for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries, among many other prizes; this year, Hwami completed an MFA at the Ruskin School of Art at Oxford University.
In 2019, she represented her country of birth at the 58th Venice Biennale alongside three artists, and in the same year had her first institutional solo show at Gasworks in London called (15,952km) via Trans – Sahara Highway N1.
Rich in colour, subject, and scale, Hwami’s exuberant and vivid paintings of self-portraits and her extended family draw on the artist’s autobiographical history. Sourced from images ranging from the internet to family photo albums, they explore representations of the black body, along with notions of sexuality, gender and spirituality.
Experimenting with photography and digitally collaged images, and often incorporating other media such as silkscreen, pastel or charcoal, Hwami’s bold painting’s offer an insight into a deeply personal world, whilst also appearing universal and familiar; the artist has said, ‘with the collapsing of geography and time and space, no longer am I confined in a singular society but simultaneously I am experiencing Zimbabwe and South Africa and the UK, in my mind. I’m in the UK, but I carry those places with me everywhere I go.’
But the reason why we are speaking with Kudzanai-Violet today is because she is currently the subject of and featured in two of my favourite exhibitions up in London right now: the Hayward Gallery’s painting show “Mixing it Up” and her solo exhibition, “when you need letters for your skin” at Victoria Miro Gallery, a show i found utterly spellbinding with its poignant, personal and raw paintings -- painting she describes as “visual letters”.
LISTEN NOW + ENJOY!!!
Follow us: Katy Hessel: @thegreatwomenartists / @katy.hessel
Sound editing by Nada Smiljanic
Research assistant: Viva Ruggi
Artwork by @thisisaliceskinner
Music by Ben Wetherfield