Virginia Chihota: A Thorn in my Flesh (Munzwa Munyama Yangu)
by Ladun Ogidan
A Thorn in my Flesh (munzwa munyama yangu) is the title of the first solo exhibition in Europe by Libyan-based Zimbabwean artist Virginia Chihota. The exhibition opened to rave reviews on January 9 at London’s Tiwani Contemporary Gallery and will run till February 6. It presents a variety of work in drawing and print exploring the connection between self and other and self and environment in relation to female subjectivity.
Working across printmaking and drawing, Chihota observes the human figure and depicts it with expressive force. Her monoprints often depict the human form, isolated or trapped within womb-like membranes of translucent colours and inky patterns as seen in The Constant Search for Self (SelfKudzokorodza Kuzvitsvaga) (£6,600) and The Day will Arrive (Zuva Richasvika) (£6,600). Her bold line and play with transparency highlight her exceptional skills as a printmaker, while conveying her authority as much as her subjects’ vulnerability and anxiety.
A Thorn in my Flesh takes her meditations on the body as a departure point in relation to female subjectivity. According to the artist, “The thorn represents the many weaknesses and negative situations in life, yet if we continue to hope, we will be released from the tension and pressures surrounding us. Weakness and strength cannot do without each other.” The exhibition includes some new pieces such as the series of screen prints The Root of the Flower We Do Not Know (Mudzi Weruva Ratisingazive) (£5,350). In Raising your Own (Kurera Wako) (£8,900), Chihota responds to the challenges of human relationships using her recent experiences of marriage and motherhood with a female subject depicted as a giant matriarch. With an inverted head, she supports her family in her arms.
Virginia Chihota was born in 1983 in Chitungwiza, Zimbabwe, and currently lives and works between Tunisia, Libya, Austria and Zimbabwe. She graduated in Fine Arts from the Harare Polytechnic in 2006 and was awarded the Prix Canson in 2013. Recent exhibitions include Shifting Africa: Artistic Views from the Sub-Sahara, Kunsthalle Faust, Hannover (2014); Giving Contours to Shadows, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin (2014); 55th Venice Biennale (2013); National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare (2012); and the Lyon Biennale (2011).
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