One of the most exciting artists in our 2023 Summer Auction is Zimbabwean artist Tafadzwa Masudi! We sat down with Tafadzwa to discuss his formative years in Zimbabwe, the process behind his dazzling colours, and the projects he's most excited coming up!
What effect did growing up in the capital city of Zimbabwe, Harare, have on your progression into the arts? Are there any local artists that inspired you?
Major effects inherited from growing up in this African city are perseverance and resilience, which l carried through into my practice and my paintings.
Zimbabwean artists who inspired me most are Mishek Masamvu, Chikonzero Chazunguza, Dominic Benhura and Portia Zvavahera.
During your formative years, you spent some time in the proximity of your uncle’s workshop and your aunt’s textile practice. How do your family relationships surface within your paintings?
My paintings are an extension of these two worlds merged together - from the colourful textiles where l formed a sense of colour combination and experimentation thereof to the crotchet and weaving from my grandma and my aunties, which is what l use mostly on my background patterns. Also sometimes cloths and my own interpretation of it.
After leaving Zimbabwe in 2010 you relocated to Cape Town, finding work in Salt River where you worked close to clothing and textiles for an extended period. What were your hopes during this period? How did this experience shape your approach to painting?
My mindset during that period was to learn as much as l can from that industry, aiming to eventually have the confidence and network to do my own thing. The experience allowed me to stay in the creative space and led me to where l am at present.
Last year you debuted Maricho/Part Time, a solo exhibition. What does Maricho mean to you? Has your process of reflection influenced the way that you currently create your works? Do you feel like you are tapping into a particular cultural zeitgeist within South Africa?
Maricho is a word that refers to part-time and often undesirable work done to put food on the table. Many foreigners find themselves in this situation. It implies the lowering of oneself, one’s dignity, ego and persona. For example, here in South Africa you would often find qualified teachers or bankers who end up working as waiters or garden.
You have developed a motif of obscuring the faces of figures in your paintings. Can you explain the significance of this? How does this relate to your sense of self and identity?
The obscurity of identity refers to the separation of one’s self with what one goes through and desires. The balloons are not just masks of optimism, it also represents the composed pressure under which most of us are. My ideas and creations play a major role in terms of my identity. Besides being an introvert, you can imagine how valuable the opportunity to create art and make a living off it is to me.
Employing the use of contrasting tones of acrylic, you create dazzling, lucid, and vibrant scenes. Can you explain more about the processes you undertake to create your paintings? Why are you particularly drawn to creating environments composed of a myriad of vivid colours?
Whenever l paint l am in conversation with the artwork. It often directs me to where it wants to be taken based on the idea presented. l put together a feel and an optimistic environment that’s lovable and inviting and hopefully it will spark a conversation.
Do you have projects that you are currently working on that you are excited about?
Indeed. Besides producing works for the galleries I work with, my focus at present is working on a body of paintings that will form part of an installation of paintings that will be on show later this year at the AKAA art fair in Paris in October.