The rough compositional style of Kudzanai Chiurai’s early paintings, which melded new trends in contemporary street art (such as collage and stencil) with the influence of expressive mark makers like Jean-Michel Basquiat, generated widespread interest. Chiurai was the subject of a 2005 profile in the Sunday Times, in which he spoke of the complexities involved in openly criticising Zimbabwe’s veteran president, Robert Mugabe: “I might sound brave, but I am very disturbed … my mother still lives in Zimbabwe … I still want to go back … The country is in my bloodstream.”1 This mixed-media work was produced a year after his breakout exhibition Y Propaganda at Obert Contemporary and appeared on curator Storm Janse van Rensburg’s 2006 travelling group exhibition, New Painting. This work’s muted colour tones register Chiurai’s sombre mood at the time, while its scratchy text component highlights a complication faced by many Zimbabwean exiles: xenophobia. Two years after making this work South Africa experienced widespread anti-immigrant violence, which Chiurai witnessed first-hand from his Johannesburg studio.
1 Madondo, Bongani (2005). ‘Pop goes the easel’, The Sunday Times, 1 May 2005.