Born in 1981 in zimbabwe, kudzanai chiurai is an internationally acclaimed young artist now living and working in south africa. he was the first black student to graduate with a BA (fine art) from the university of pretoria. regarded as part of the “born free” generation in zimbabwe because he was born one year after the country’s independence from rhodesia, chiurai’s early work focused on the political, economic and social strife in his homeland. seminal works like “presidential wallpaper” depicted zimbabwean president robert mugabe as a sell-out and led to chiurai’s exile from zimbabwe.
chiurai’s large mixed media works now tackle some of the most pertinent issues facing southern africa such as xenophobia, displacement and black empowerment. his paintings confront viewers with the psychological and physical experience of inner-city johannesburg, the continent’s most cosmopolitan melting pot where thousands of exiles, refugees and asylum-seekers battle for survival alongside the never-ending swell of newly urbanized south africans. the actuality of these environs is reinforced by chiurai’s use of photographic transfer. boldly stenciled figures and anonymous text provide running commentary, leading viewers on a journey through his intricately painted turn-of-the century buildings, bustling streets and congested transit systems.