Kudzanai-Violet Hwami was born in Gutu, Zimbabwe in 1993, and lives and works in London. In 2016, she was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Wimbledon College of Arts, London, with first class honours, after completing a BTEC National Diploma in Art and Design at North Manchester College in 2013.
Hwami’s bright, irreverent oil paintings design scenes belonging to a futuristic vision of African life, a fictional utopia filled with creativity and without borders. Her work is a celebration of Afro-punk, LGBTQ, and internet sub-cultures, shot through with witty political commentary. Having lived in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the UK, she is able to expertly articulate issues around diaspora, displacement and identity, forging universal narratives with an autobiographical touch. Her process involves experimentation with digitally collaged images from diverse sources to create her own reference, from which she creates gargantuan canvases, slowly building up thick layers of paint with deep chromatic intensity, and often incorporating other media such as pastel or charcoal. She often uses nudes as a point of departure, boldly bringing up questions of the black body and its representation, as well as sexuality, gender and spirituality.
In 2016, she won the Clyde & Co Art Award and the Cass Art Materials Grant, as well as being shortlisted for the Bloomberg New Contemporaries Award. The same year, she was also named Young Achiever of the Year at the Zimbabwean International Women’s Awards. She has exhibited her work at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe (2017), the Royal Scottish Academy (2016), and Shonibare Studios, London (2014). Her first major solo exhibition, If You Keep Going South You’ll Meet Yourself, was mounted in 2017 at Tyburn Gallery, London, UK.
In 2018, Hwami will be exhibiting work at Les Ateliers de Rennes (the Rennes Biennial of Contemporary Art), in Rennes, France. She will also be included in the group show Vos désirs sont les nôtres at Triangle France in Marseille.