Often drawing on classic compositions from the Old Masters of European art history, Richard Mudariki reinterprets these iconic scenes with his own cast of human and animal characters, constructing a mise-en-scene which resituates the drama within a contemporary, Southern African social context. Mudariki tackles a wide range of political and social debates with an arresting and unique visual language characterized by bright colours, irrational spaces and perspectives, theatrical compositions and allegorical use of symbolism. Often appealing to the viewer’s sense of humour, Mudariki’s theatricality nevertheless maintains a restless, foreboding energy in its engagement with the duplicity and deception, which characterizes so much of contemporary politics. In Mudariki’s quotations of iconic moments in European art, the artist also questions notions of canonicity and accepted narratives of art history, considering his position – and the position of African artists more generally – within it.
Richard Mudariki studied under the mentorship of renowned painter Helen Lieros and Greg Shaw at Gallery Delta in Harare and is now based in Cape Town. The artist has held four solo exhibitions to date and his work has been selected for inclusion on major exhibitions at significant venues in Johannesburg, Cape Town, London, Paris and New York. More recently his work was the subject of a mid career retrospective organized by SANLAM Bank; the exhibition was first presented in Johannesburg before travelling to Cape Town. Mudariki’s work is represented in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in Equatorial Guinea.