Thursday, July 8, 2010

Greener on the Other Side is Kudzanai Chuirai’s third poster series in
collaboration with Dokter and Misses.
The show explores the franchise of democracy.

The franchise is open for business, but can you afford the product?
Many have had to come to accept that they are simply window-shoppers.

This show will run until 7 August

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.

His latest sell-out exhibition Graceland offered striking commentary on issues related to black economic empowerment and inner-city rejuvenation in South Africa. From his home/studio located in one of Johannesburg’s most notorious crime hotspots (now earmarked as a rejuvenation zone), Chiurai produced a body of work that featured buildings, residents and signage seen from his own balcony. And while stereotypical benchmarks of urban development, such as the new BMW-driving suburban black elite, were challenged and often ridiculed, a subtle yet powerful ray of hope and progress also emerged. Works like since 1900 and fela heralded the perseverance and longevity of ‘mom and pop’ neighborhood businesses and indigenous african icons. Chiurai offered a deeply personal glimpse of his version of ‘graceland’ and signaled a fresh direction for future works.

The Black President and One Vote

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