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-scenewhich resituates the drama within a contemporary, Southern African social context. Mudariki tackles a widerange 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 five 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.
The artist’s work was the subject of a mid career retrospective organized by SANLAM Bank in 2017; the exhibition entitled Mutara Wenguva (Time Line), was presented in both Johannesburg and Cape Town and was accompanied by a comprehensive publication on the artist’s work. In 2018 Mudariki joined Barnard’s roster of artists and his work was presented by the gallery at the Investec Cape Town Art Fair where his large painting entitled Economy of Scale was acquired by IZIKO South African National Gallery. Shortly thereafter he was awarded the first artist residency at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) and his work was included in Sotheby’s, London sale of Modern and Contemporary African Art.
The artist’s much anticipated first solo exhibition at Barnard, entitled Maoneru Angu (My Reality II) was highly commended by collectors and critics alike and his paintings were subsequently presented at AKAA: Also Known as Africa (Barnard, Le Carreau du Temple, Paris, 2018). The artist’s work was also included in Centennial: A Century of Art from the Sanlam Art Collection 1918 – 2018 (SANLAM, Cape Town & Johannesburg, 2018); Five Bhobh: Painting at the End of an Era (Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, 2018-2019) and Filling in the Gaps (IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town, 2019).
In May 2019 Barnard produced a limited edition hard cover publication of the artist’s work; the book entitled Ndini Here (Is this me?) was launched in New York where Barnard presented Mudariki’s first solo show in North America at 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in Manhattan. Curators from the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) expressed interest in the artist’s work and the West Collection, Philidelphia acquired two of his paintings. Upcoming projects include his participation in EXPO Chicago and his first solo exhibition in Paris with Galerie Polaris.
Mudariki’s work is represented in the collection of IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town; SANLAM, Cape Town & Johannesburg; Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), Cape Town; Leridon Collection, Paris and the West Collection, Philadelphia, USA.