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Wycliffe Mundopa

Updated: Mar 18, 2022

Wycliffe Mundopa, 2021 FNB Art Joburg Prize winner solo exhibition at the Johannesburg Art Gallery.

Wycliffe Mundopa during his award as the FNB Art Prize winner for 2021. (Courtesy of FNB Art Joburg)

Wycliffe Mundopa is the 2021 FNB Art Joburg Prize winner. His solo exhibition is titled Zva Nyadza, Shona for “to bear witness”. The show, which hangs in the eastern wing of the Johannesburg Art Gallery, comprises about a dozen impassioned paintings.

The gathered works shore Mundopa up as an artist who keeps faith and fidelity in the enduring power of painting.They are monumental canvases that meet visitors and viewers with the energy of a blood-drenched birth bed, charged with transformative potential.

At the heart of the show are the storied spectres of violence and vulgarities suffered by the women in a Zimbabwe brought to heel by years of Western sanctions and misrule. Mundopa gathers them: a roumor of rape here, a report of starvation there, even whispers of hope and defiant indulgent desire too. He then moulds each into coagulations of colours and clamorous clots of meaning on canvas.

A Rose By Any Other Name Part 1. (Courtesy of FNB Art Joburg)

Mundopa has managed to create an art anchored not only in tradition and intelligence, but something visceral. Forget painterly beauty: these works are evidence of a man clawing at the limits of his form.

An installation view of Wycliffe Mundopa’s exhibition ZvaNyadza, currently running at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. (Courtesy of FNB Art Joburg)

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