Kudzanai-Violet Hwami: A Making of Ghosts

Victoria Miro, London, United Kingdom
14 Apr 2023 - 13 May 2023

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami,
Work in progress (detail), 2023
© Kudzanai-Violet Hwami
Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Work in progress (detail), 2023 © Kudzanai-Violet Hwami Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro

Victoria Miro presents an exhibition of new work by Kudzanai-Violet Hwami. Comprising paintings in dialogue with large-scale wall-based and suspended photographic images, A Making of Ghosts reflects on aspects of grief and the action of memory, unfolding as the viewer moves through the gallery space.

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami’s paintings combine visual fragments from a myriad of sources, such as online and archival images, and personal photographs, which collapse past and present. Autobiographical in nature and dealing with internal and private curiosities, her works address how in a digitised world of infinite images we construct a sense of self, or experience and try to understand one another in a complex social reality.

Conceived across both levels of the gallery, A Making of Ghosts, the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery, features paintings and large-scale photographic images – some presented as floor-to-ceiling vinyls, others suspended in the space – sharing references including family photographs that act as touchstones for thoughts about grief, its action on memory and its fragmentary and disorienting effects.

Hwami’s work often speaks to the fallibility of memory as images are produced and reproduced, impressing themselves upon us while becoming unmoored from their original sources. Through her process, the artist questions things that appear fixed, or possess apparent finality, opening up a space of imagination and discovery shaped in part by her years growing up in Zimbabwe and South Africa, her interest in metaphysics and spirituality, and expressions of contemporary Black and Queer identities. Here, the historical medium of painting is folded into a collage-like approach analogous with the layering of formats we associate with social media platforms today. ‘I think I am seeking freedom,’ Hwami has said. ‘Collage making, which is a process I use to create a picture, has given me absolute freedom as a strategy…’.

In the context of A Making of Ghosts, the digital and physical processes Hwami employs – splice, repetition, overlay, changes of scale and medium, in addition to the free play of imagination – are intrinsically linked to ideas of proximity in time and space, and how images and their accompanying narratives are endlessly constructed and reconstructed, living within us and beyond us.