Virginia Chihota, Chiberoko Chakaramba Kuudzirwa

Tiwani Modern, Cromwell Place
17 January – 11 February 2023


“ the act of repeating the identical picture or gesture (…) is my very own prayer in search of an answer over a particular matter.”
Interview in Elephant journal February 2021


Virginia Chihota’s new exhibition at Tiwani Modern, quickly at house in Cromwell Place, options 4 monumental canvasses. Unstretched, and pinned to the wall in order that their edges are gently animated with motion, they communicate tales rooted in deep introspection. The exhibition’s title alerts the artist’s conviction in a robust, generative feminine precept.


Coming to the work for the primary time, one could possibly be forgiven for assuming these are work, whereas actually they’re completed with an astonishingly advanced silkscreen course of. Chihota’s apply incorporates drawing and silkscreen (also called serigraphy) on the most refined degree. The artist studied at Nationwide Artwork Gallery studios in Harare, Zimbabwe, and was one in every of a bunch chosen by Raphael Chikukwa to symbolize Zimbabwe on the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. Layered with distinctive in addition to repeating motifs, the works externalise an intense inside discourse that’s inflected with a powerful religious dimension. Chihota has described her selection of silkscreen over portray per se as a way to keep away from following within the footsteps of different painters.


All 4 canvasses characteristic a wealthy array of various mark making. Chihota solely comparatively just lately switched away from paper helps to permit a extra densely layered course of. These vary from broad gestural strokes that always define her personal determine centrally within the composition, to ultra-fine, feathery renditions of bottle-brush flowers; from semi-transparent washes of textured color to impastoed blocks of pure pigment. These switches of register push and pull the attention throughout the canvass, ever in search of the motifs that lie ready to be found quietly within the background. Just like the minor characters in a novel that drive key plot twists, one must pay shut consideration.


In Ndoda kutarisa kumusoro kwete ikoko (I need to search for not there), 2022, for instance, there seems a diminutive define determine in shirt and tie. They’ve a pleasant, if barely sheepish look, head cocked to at least one facet. Who is that this? A schoolchild? Is the blurred crimson determine with obscured mouth and conspicuous chain their artist-mother? And whose arms are these that attain out throughout a pool of fish – presumably providing assist, however possibly graspingly demanding assist too? In her personal notes to the exhibition the artist writes: “in an area that carries stress and stress, I can endure to a sure level till it turns into clear from inside that it’s time to transfer…to a desired state symbolized by the fish in water.” On the prime of the canvas, the artist’s head together with her distinctive locks, like an Egyptian goddess, seems above the scene taking part in out beneath, presenting the narrative to us.


In Miganhu yodimbuka (Boundary strains have began breaking), 2022, the artist depicts herself thrice, from an nearly solely abstracted dome-shape within the backside left, to the expressive, seemingly angst-ridden determine within the prime proper. In a motif that repeats throughout a number of of the works within the present, home windows maintain textual content that seems to supply a name and response in Shona and English: reversed by the silkscreen course of, one reads “wash me” in English, whereas the Shona textual content, ndigeze iwo, interprets as “let me wash them”. That is the one occasion the place the home windows maintain textual content. Elsewhere they act as metaphorical vents within the compositions, symbolically letting some air in or, via repetition, providing up a prayer, like rosary beads.


In Nditsigirei nomweya unoda (Uphold me with a keen spirit), 2022, Chihota portrays herself from behind, fenced in to what could possibly be an animal pen, or possibly a boxing ring, a dartboard on her again suggesting St Sebastian. Alongside the decrease third of the work, a protracted row of church-like home windows; to the precise of the primary determine, a vignette that seems to depict a girl asleep in mattress, with a baby standing at her head. The open window motif seems once more, this time opening onto a golden mild.


The final of the 4 canvasses, Sarai ndaenda (So lengthy I’m leaving), 2022, is maybe probably the most lyrical, with three repeating figures throughout the underside that arrange a Matissian rhythm on a richly labored floor of pink and peacock blue marks. On nearer inspection these are composite photographs of a seated girl, her toes resting on a stool, and smaller figures draped throughout the highest of her. As within the earlier work, the artist is offered from behind as a monumental central determine, ostensibly strolling away from us. Overlaid horizontally, is a recumbent nude conjured in superb crimson strains, that dissolves into abstraction. There may be extraordinary tenderness within the drawn gestures that define again, shoulder and arm, a way of the burden and refuge of repose. In all of those works Chihota’s command of color is viscerally satisfying.


Chihota’s work has lengthy been centred in a feminine subjectivity that explores her personal life journey via expertise of childbirth and rearing and familial relationships in addition to the challenges confronting the artist mom. The present at Tiwani presents her largest works up to now, works that give her house to increase and amplify her themes, and to showcase a virtuosity that’s breathtaking to behold.


Caroline Douglas


4 Cromwell Pl. London, SW7 2JE
Opening Instances: Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 6pm
Exhibition open till 11 February 2023