Kudzanai-Violet Hwami: A Making of Ghosts
14 April–20 May 2023
16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW
Comprising paintings in dialogue with large-scale wall-based and suspended photographic images, A Making of Ghosts reflects on aspects of grief and the action of memory, unfolding as the viewer moves through the gallery space.
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami’s paintings combine visual fragments from a myriad of sources, such as online and archival images, and personal photographs, which collapse past and present. Autobiographical in nature and ‘dealing with internal and private curiosities,’ her works address how in a digitised world of infinite images we construct a sense of self, or experience and try to understand one another in a complex social reality.
The artist invited Ruvimbo Gumbochuma to write two poems reflecting on aspects of the exhibition and its themes. Titled My Mother’s Peach Tree and An Account of Time, these are presented as stacks of posters in the gallery. Visitors are invited to take a poster away with them, subject to availability. Those unable to visit the gallery in person may read the poems here.
Violet 1 Chiringiro
Oil, oil stick, charcoal, and acrylic on canvas
180 x 140.3 cm
70 7/8 x 55 1/4 in
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Chiringiro, 2023More info
Conceived across both levels of the gallery, A Making of Ghosts, the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, features paintings and large-scale photographic images – some presented as floor-to-ceiling vinyls, others suspended in the space – sharing references including family photographs that act as touchstones for thoughts about grief, its action on memory and its fragmentary and disorienting effects.
Violet 2 Murikishi, Stan 4
Violet 3 Murapi
UV print, acrylic, charcoal, and oil on canvas
177 x 156 cm
69 3/4 x 61 3/8 in
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Murapi, 2023More info
Hwami’s work often speaks to the fallibility of memory as images are produced and reproduced, impressing themselves upon us while becoming unmoored from their original sources. Through her process, the artist questions things that appear fixed, or possess apparent finality, opening up a space of imagination and discovery shaped in part by her years growing up in Zimbabwe and South Africa, her interest in metaphysics and spirituality, and expressions of contemporary Black and Queer identities. Here, the historical medium of painting is folded into a collage-like approach analogous with the layering of formats we associate with social media platforms today. ‘I think I am seeking freedom,’ Hwami has said. ‘Collage making, which is a process I use to create a picture, has given me absolute freedom as a strategy…’.
Violet 4 Many faces on Jupiter
UV print, acrylic, charcoal, pastel, and oil on canvas
223 x 192 cm
87 3/4 x 75 5/8 in
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Many faces on Jupiter, 2023More info
Violet 5 Dark river mouth
UV print, acrylic and oil on canvas
287 x 192 cm
113 x 75 5/8 in
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Dark river mouth, 2023More info
In the context of A Making of Ghosts, the digital and physical processes Hwami employs – splice, repetition, overlay, changes of scale and medium, in addition to the free play of imagination – are intrinsically linked to ideas of proximity in time and space, and how images and their accompanying narratives are endlessly constructed and reconstructed, living within us and beyond us.
Violet 6 Resting man on red earth
Oil and acrylic on canvas
200.2 x 300.1 cm
78 7/8 x 118 1/8 in
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Resting man on red earth, 2023More info
Violet 7 Rwendo Rwekudenga
Oil and acrylic on canvas
125.5 x 90 cm
49 3/8 x 35 3/8 in
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Rwendo Rwekudenga, 2023More info
Violet 8 TRIPTYCH
Archival water-based inkjet print, oil, and acrylic on canvas
Left Panel: 80 x 60 cm; 31 1/2 x 23 5/8 in
Middle Panel: 80 x 60 cm; 31 1/2 x 23 5/8 in
Right Panel: 80.4 x 60.4 cm; 31 5/8 x 23 3/4 in
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Burning woman, 2023More info
As Osei Bonsu comments in the publication accompanying the artist’s 2022 solo exhibition at Kunsthaus Pasquart, Switzerland, ‘Hwami’s images are digitally recomposed to question the legitimacy of the “real” in relation to spiritual and existential experiences connected to memory, time or place. In a world dominated by digital technologies, Hwami’s mixing of timelines and temporalities evokes connections between places near and far, generations living and dead, a space between home and a possible elsewhere.’
Violet first floor 1
Oil and acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 cm
11 3/4 x 11 3/4 in
Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Stan 2, 2023More info
About the artist
Born in Gutu, Zimbabwe in 1993, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami currently lives and works in London. In 2016, the same year she graduated from Wimbledon College of Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, she was awarded the Clyde & Co. Award and the Young Achiever of the Year Award at the Zimbabwean International Women’s Awards, as well as being shortlisted for Bloomberg New Contemporaries. In 2019, Hwami presented work at the 58th Venice Biennale as part of the Zimbabwe Pavilion, the youngest artist to participate in the Biennale. In 2022 she returned to the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia as part of The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani. Hwami’s first institutional solo exhibition, (15,952km) via Trans – Sahara Hwy N1, was held at Gasworks, London, in 2019. Recent institutional exhibitions include a solo presentation at Kunsthaus Pasquart, Switzerland, which was on view 10 April–12 June 2022.
Other group exhibitions include Reframed: The Woman at the Window at Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, UK (2022); When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting, Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa (2022); Ubuntu, a lucid dream, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2021–2022); Mixing it Up: Painting in the UK, Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2021); Citizens of Memory, The Perimeter, London, UK (2021); The Power of My Hands, Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, France (2021); Force Times Distance: On Labor and its Sonic Ecologies, Sonsbeek 20-24, Arnhem, Netherlands (2021).
Hwami’s work is held in public collections including Fondation Blachère, Apt, France; Government Art Collection, London, UK; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, USA; Kadist Foundation, Paris, France; Norval Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa; Jorge Perez Art Museum, Miami, USA; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands; The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, USA; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, USA; Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa.