Congratulations to Wycliffe Mudopa for winning the FNB Art Prize for 2021, arguably the most prestigious prize on the continent.
Wycliffe is a 2018 graduate of the Africa First residency which he did jointly with 2 other formidable talents from the First Floor Gallery Harare stable - Helen Teede and Gresham Tapiwa Nyaude.
Wycliffe’s solo exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery opens on October 31 with a suite of more than 15 monumental new canvases elevating and celebrating the drama and exaltation of the lives of Zimbabwe’s extraordinary, ordinary women.’
“I’m very honored to win the prize this year especially because I have exhibited in South Africa for a number of years now, this really solidifies my ties with the country and the many people who support my work here,” says Mundopa. “It’s also important to me to show in museums and galleries in Africa because most of our work is exhibited abroad. As an artist who’s living and working on the continent, I think it’s important to have such platforms,” he says.
Committed to bearing witness to the lives of the most vulnerable in his community, his works consistently speak to social and political upheavals of life in urban Zimbabwe. In this context, the lives of women in particular frame his practice and social commentary. “I paint women mainly, not in the literal sense, but as a metaphor reflecting what happens in my society,” he explains.
Mundopa’s imagery is audacious and unapologetic, bridging vernacular visual metaphor or Harare street slang with classical genre painting compositions of Dutch masters and post-impressionistic verve in line and color. “Wycliffe Mundopa is a vivacious, upbeat, whacky colorist. His vision of Africa is life-affirming. This is evident in his convivial pleasure-loving vision, which twists provocatively into the macabre,” says FNB Art Prize judge Ashraf Jamal who is a research associate in the Art and Design Research Centre at the University of Johannesburg.”