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. Regularly 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 the artist’s quotations of iconic moments in European art, he also questions notions of canonicity and accepted narratives of art history, considering his position – and the position of African artists more generally – within it.
Born and educated in Zimbabwe, Richard Mudariki studied under the mentorship of renowned painter Helen Lieros and Greg Shaw at Gallery Delta in Harare. He subsequently moved to South Africa and is now based in Cape Town. The artist has presented seven solo exhibitions to date and his work has been selected for inclusion on curated exhibitions at significant venues in Johannesburg, Cape Town, London, Paris and New York. Mudariki’s work is represented in the collections of IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town; Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), Cape Town; SANLAM, Cape Town & Johannesburg; Leridon Collection, Paris; West Collection, Philadelphia, USA and the Thomas J. Watson Library Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.