Kudzanai-Violet Hwami - New Now London Tuesday, July 13, 2021 | Phillips

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  • 'I paint because of the pleasure of painting and having a direct connection between the mind and the hand; the idea of being a master in painting or being skilful and proving to myself that I'm worth something- that I'm good at something.'
    —Kudzanai-Violet Hwami

    London-based artist, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami was born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa; her large-scale oil paintings speak deeply of her delicate vision of Southern African life. Through her diverse practice which features self-portraits, nudes, plants and images of her friends and family, Hwami brazenly provokes discussion about the black body and its representation in portraiture, as well as sexuality, gender and spirituality. 


    Rendered in earthy tones with ocean blue and blood red accents, Wherever You're From, 2015 perfectly encapsulates the characteristic themes of diaspora, displacement, and identity, often present in Hwami’s work. The artist notes, ‘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.’i Focusing her artistic practice around her experiences of geographical dislocation and displacement, Hwami’s oeuvre is an amalgamation of visual fragments from a variety of sources ranging from digital images and photographs taken by the artist herself. 


    Hwami usually begins her process by sourcing images online, focusing on colour, composition, and subject matter. Using an app, she then creates digital collages of various images, experimenting with different structures. Though Hwami does take her own photographs for references, she prefers not to include people she knows, as it renders the work too personal, claiming that, ‘The goal is to compose an image that I myself cannot recognise in my reality.’ii Merging several images together allows for a composition that further emphasises the issues of identity. Having finalised the reference materials, Hwami uses charcoal to sketch out her ideas, subsequently covering them with a thin mixture of paint and turpentine.  Following a few initial washes of colour Hwami employs generous applications of paint to chisel the painting, producing richly textured, detailed work. 


    In 2019, Hwami presented her work at the 58th Venice Biennale at the Zimbabwe pavilion, debuting in the same year with her first institutional solo exhibition at Gasworks in London, UK. Following in the steps paved by artist like Henry Taylor, Kerry James Marshall and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, who according to Hwami herself have served her as inspiration, the young artist has revived and redefined the genre of portraiture by focusing it on the black experience. 



    i Kudzanai-Violet Hwami quoted in Victoria Miro, Announcing representation of Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, online
    ii Kudzanai-Violet Hwami quoted in Cass Art, Artist Interview: Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, online

    • Provenance

      Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 2016



signed, inscribed, titled and dated 'KweKwe x HWARE x CAPETOWN WHEREVER YOU'RE FROM Hwami 2015' on the reverse
oil and oil stick on canvas
148.8 x 149.5 cm (58 5/8 x 58 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2015.

Full Cataloguing

£30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for £81,900

Contact Specialist

Simon Tovey
Head of New Now Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 13 July 2021