Wallen Mapondera was born in 1985 in Harare, Zimbabwe. He is currently based in Grahamstown, South Africa, where he is undertaking a Masters in Fine Art at Rhodes University.
Mapondera is a multi-disciplinary artist who creates work through painting, drawing, sculpture and installation. He is best known for his complex wall sculptures which create richly tessellated abstract surfaces out of cardboard and textiles. These works challenge the linearity of time and history, transfiguring ordinary materials into precious, textured visual puzzles. The artist also paints surreal, unnerving dreamscapes, combining animals with domestic objects, using the deep-rooted cultural psychology of the human-animal relationship to evoke social and political themes of power, domination, hierarchies and corruption.
The artist graduated from Zimbabwe’s National Gallery School in 2007. He attended the Chinhoyi University of Technology in 2008 but, due to political instability, could not complete his studies. Since then, he has sustained an independent artistic practice in Zimbabwe. In 2015, he co-founded Post Studio Arts Collective, a visual arts group that works toward the acknowledgement of visual art as an important aspect of education, spreading awareness through classes, exhibitions and workshops hosted by both practicing visual artists and academics in the art world, including lecturers, curators and art critics.
Solo exhibitions include Shungu Madanha, Atelier Mondial, Basel, Switzerland (2018), Emergency Exit, Tyburn Gallery, London, United Kingdom (2018), Samusha Weiri Dongo, SMAC Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa (2018), Tsananguro / Clarifications, SMAC Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (2017), Paint My Tea Pot, Tafaria Castle, Kenya (2016), SOCIAL ZOOMETRY, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe (2014), ANI-MAN (a human in an animal), Association for Visual Arts Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (2013), and TURNING TABLES, Red Mill Gallery, Vermont Studio Center, U.S.A.
Group exhibitions include KUBATANA: An Exhibition with Contemporary African Artists, Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium, Vestfossen, Norway (2019), Five Bhobh – Painting at the End of an Era, Zeitz MOCAA (2018), Cape Town, South Africa, Identity, Gallery Delta, Harare, Zimbabwe (2017), Nothing Personal, SMAC Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa (2016), Between the Sheets, Gallery East, North Fremantle, Western Australia (2012), Colour Africa, Munich, Germany (2011), and African Expressions, Avignon University, Avignon, France (2010).
Mapondera recently completed a three-month Pro Helvetia residency at Atelier Mondial in Basel, Switzerland, running from late 2018 to early 2019.