At the age of 30, Virginia Chihota can be considered both an established leading Zimbabwean artist in terms of her career, as well as a role model for the new generation of women artists in the country. Emerging from Chitungwiza, Chihota has always been an artist deeply committed to developing her skills, following through both a certificate at the National Gallery Studio School as well as the Diploma at Harare Polytechnic, from which she attained advanced skills in printing and a great understanding and control of these techniques. Equally Chihota has persevered not only in her practice but also in advancing her career, understanding that engaging with the art world and industry internationally is crucial for a young artist. So, while exhibiting consistently in Zimbabwe, with exhibitions at Gallery Delta and National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Chihota has also sought out residencies such as Greatmore Studios in South Africa and has exhibited as far away as Korea, Argentina and France. Her singular style and technique were given first major recognition, with selection for the Biennale of Lyon, France in 2011 followed by becoming one of representatives for Zimbabwe’s second pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2013.
Why you should be interested?
Chihota is a unique artist. While her subject matter is focused on issues closely associated with lives of women, which might be seen as a limitation, the power and expressiveness of her works leave no doubt that this is an artist who cannot be pigeon-holed by gender. Chihota sees her life as both a form of research and exploration, which at any point can yield new discoveries, which are so deeply felt so as to become relevant to anyone who engages with her work. Having relocated to Libya over a year ago, rather than feeling disempowered by the profound change in lifestyle, Chihota saw the challenges of adjusting to living in a new culture as an opportunity to explore in her work new aspects of identity and humanity with powerful poignancy. Her works don’t pull any punches and have grown in scale and maturity consistently over the years as have her career accomplishments.
Like all artists of distinction, Chihota’s productivity and creative intent and commitment to art are not undermined by a change of circumstances. For her art is a vocation and one in which she has already shown that she is committed to scaling the walls of career achievement at the highest level. The recognition she has already achieved both through participation in major institutional and commercial exhibitions, bodes well for the future of her work and its ongoing value.
Born: 1983, Chitungwiza
Lives and Works: Harare/Tripoli, Libya
Started making art: 2006
Trained: National Gallery of Zimbabwe Studio School, Harare Polytechnic
Key media: paint on paper, seriography
Key themes: introspection and intimate relationships, world of a woman
Key Characteristics: strong lines and sense of contrast, complex figuration
International Exhibitions: Venice Biennale 2013, Lyon Biennale 2011, Prix Canson 2013,
International Collections: France, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Germany, South Africa
Price comparison: 2009 $100−$400, 2011 $500−$1000, 2014 $1000−$15000
Fun fact: Much of Virginia’s work for the Zimbabwe’s pavilion in the Venice Biennale was conceived and executed in Tripoli, Libya and was a response to the shock of a cultural contrast between the very liberal life for women in Zimbabwe compared with the strictures imposed on women under Moslem laws in Libya.
Where you can see her: Gallery Delta has been representing Virginia and has works available for viewing and sale at 110 Livingstone Avenue.