At 26, Wycliffe Mundopa is already a veteran painter in the emerging contemporary art scene in Harare. Having begun painting at the age of 15, Wycliffe sees painting not only as his first love but also as a life long passion and vocation. It is not surprising that his early painting idols were Rembrandt and Van Gogh and like them he turned to his immediate environment to speak with honesty and passion. This made him a passionate advocate for the lives of women and children in Harare’s underprivileged neighbourhoods with a drive to acknowledge those who are too often swept under the carpet by society. More than anything however, Mundopa is a poet of Zimbabwe’s women, able to see the dreams in the nightmares, the honour in the squalor and the courage to acknowledge pain rather than euphemise despair. His works are characterised by strong lines and passionate colouring, which are used to communicate emotion as the key element of his paintings rather than the details of figuration.
Why you should be interested?
Mundopa is an artist with a singular and independent vision and style. He is extra-ordinarily prolific in his output and meets difficulties in his environment with creativity and ingenuity. Unable to get oil paint, he turns to collage, cut outs and spray paint, unable to get canvas he sows off-cuts together – he never stops. This means that Mundopa’s development and progress is far more rapid than that of many of his peers. He is deeply conscious of and committed to his culture and his people and the importance of speaking the truth of his time and his place, without making compromises to achieve short-term commercial gains. His works, while deeply Zimbabwean speaks of values, truths and passions shared by all. His work has already attracted collectors from all around the world, including interest and support from institutional collections such as the Museum of Equatorial Guinea and AMBA Foundation for Brazilian, African and Cuban Art. Mundopa represented Zimbabwe at the inaugural edition of 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, in London in November 2013 as well as Berliner Liste 2013 International Art Fair, Berlin, Germany (courtesy of First Floor Gallery Harare).
This is an artist with major ambitions, exceptional work ethic and a big talent to support a big future.
Born: 1987 Rusape
Lives and Works: Harare
Started Painting: 2002
Trained: National Gallery of Zimbabwe Studio School
Key media: oil and acrylic on canvas and paper, spray-paint, ink and collage
Key themes: lives of women and children
Key Characteristics: highly expressive, emotional, strong colours and strong lines
International Exhibitions: London, Paris, Bangkok, Berlin, Amsterdam
International Collections: Australia, UK, Hong Kong, US, France, Germany, Japan,
Price comparison: 2009 $100-$400, 2011 $300 – $1,000, 2014 $400 – $3,000
Fun fact: Most people don’t believe his work is made by a male because it shows so much insight into the lives of women and children.
Where you can see him: This February, Wycliffe’s first major solo exhibition Dreamscapes, opens on 13 February 2014 at First Floor Gallery Harare and will feature 20 new works including major works on canvas as well as works on paper. For more information about the exhibition and the artists visit www.firstfloorgalleryharare.com or 2nd Floor, Mercury House, 24 George Silundika Avenue (between First and Second Streets).