Tuesday, August 30, 2016

FREE TO CHOOSE - An Artist Statement

We are living in exciting times. In my opinion, the future of the African continent has never looked brighter than today. We live in an era of relative peace, freedom, ease of communication and travel, better health facilities and education.  

Though this generation has its own unique challenges, they are in sharp contrast to the inequalities and oppression experienced during the eras of slavery, colonialism and apartheid. The ‘born free generation’ can only imagine how harsh life would have been during those times.  Many artists from previous generations had their work dismissed as primitive - only to be exhibited as tribal art. It took many years of struggle, commitment and creativity for visual artists like Thomas Mukarobgwa, George Pemba and El Anatsui, among others, to be recognized by the dominant western art world as true visual artists and for their work to be considered valuable.  Most of these early generation artists on the African continent are only now being recognized as ‘fine artists’ in the narratives of art history.

Visual artists on the African continent are today presented with many opportunities amid the challenges they may still encounter. Artists now have the freedom to choose what style and medium they want to work in – traditional or modern - and how they want their work to be viewed or understood. They do, however, have to understand that they are contributing to the relatively short history of modern visual art in Africa. They are living and working in a pioneering era where they must assert their talents and creativity to produce powerful artworks that not only chronicle the times they live in, but that will also stand the test of time.

As a painter my primary concern is to communicate an idea visually through colour, form and symbols. I realize that, as we are now living in an era where technological innovation has dramatically changed how we communicate and how information is accessed and analysed, it is crucial for an artist to disclose the underlying ideas of his work. It is often said that a powerful work of art speaks for itself, but I have come to realize that when an artist writes a statement about his work, it is not an attempt to instruct the audience what or how to experience, think or feel, but   rather to present the fundamental underpinnings of his work.

This body of work communicates my ideas and reflects my perception of the era we currently live in. In sharp contrast to bygone eras, most Africans are now in a position to freely express their views on how and by whom they want to be governed. We are free to protest, free to choose a traditional or modern lifestyle, free to communicate via handwritten letters, email or Whatsapp, free to travel, and more importantly - free to create.

View the exhibition and download the exhibition catalogue on www.johansborman.co.za

Richard with fellow artists who made a choice to come and support the exhibition.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Campaign: Support me as I venture into the international creative environment

Greetings followers, friends and colleagues. I need your support to make the best of a fantastic opportunity to expand my perspective as a visual artist. 
In the beginning of the year, l was awarded a six week artist residency to the Fountainhead Residency in Miami, USA by the Africa Centre Artist in Residency Programme (http://www.africacentre.net/announcing-the-air-2015-award-laureates). The residency award includes a round trip air fare to and from the USA as well as accommodation and a studio space. I am extremely grateful to the Africa Centre and the Fountainhead Residency in providing me with this unique opportunity. I am also grateful for the continued support of colleagues, friends, mentors, galleries and collectors. None of the accomplishments achieved over the past ten years would not have been possible without them.
The cost of materials, visa, local travel and upkeep during the six weeks in Miami is my responsibility.  America is known as having a vibrant and booming contemporary art scene, with a number of important art institutions, a huge number of artists creating exciting artworks and major international art fairs. After the residency, I plan to take advantage of this valuable opportunity of being in America to expand my artistic practice, connect with a whole new world of art professionals and be immersed in the international contemporary art scene. I intend to attend the one of the biggest contemporary art showcases, the  Art Basel Miami Beach 2016, which takes place in Miami in the first week of December.  
Art Basel Miami Beach 2015. Image Courtsy of Art Basel (forbes.com)

During Art Basel, Miami becomes the centre of the international contemporary art world as it hosts more than 2000 international galleries, over 4000 artists, curators and collectors. It is truly a great meeting point and an opportunity for me to see and interact with some of the best contemporary artworks all in one place.
After Miami l plan to  visit New York. New York is said to be one of the centres of the art world and visiting this mega city will definitely further broaden my scope on the international contemporary art scene. A friend in New York city, who is an art professor, has gladly accepted to be my tour partner in exploring high profile exhibitions in places like the Museum of Modern Art, Brooklyn Museum, Metropolitan Museum, Studio Museum in Harlem, artist studios, artist run spaces and commercial galleries. The possibility of meeting curators, artists, gallerist, journalists and creating professional relationships will definitely be enriching to me as an artist coming from Africa.
The Guggenheim Museum in New York (image courtesy of interactive.wttv.com)

To achieve this endeavor, l need your help to raise US$2,100  in the next 60 days to cover the entrance fees to Art Basel Miami Beach 2016, air travel from Miami to New York, museum entrance fees, lodging at YMCA, upkeep, and Indieogogo’s commission to host this campaign.  The decision to launch the campaign a few months well ahead is the take advantage of discounts of in-advance bookings.  
I have created a campaign on Indiegogo. You can view the campaign to donate or share with friends and colleagues by clicking here:  https://igg.me/at/richardmudarikiUSA/x/13600170  
This will be my first artist residency and the first time traveling to America. l am looking forward to the prospect of living and working in a new creative atmosphere alongside other artists who are experts in a variety of disciplines. This will be from October to November 2016. For an emerging artists, this is a unique opportunity to be immersed in the international contemporary art scene, obtain professional network and develop a fresh new perspective for my paintings. 
The Africa Centre Artist-in-Residency Programme offers awards to African artists to participate in artist residency around the world through its network of partnerships. This year over 400 artists from 40 African countries applied to the program and l am honoured to have been selected as the one of the nine award winners. The Fountainhead Residency is a space that was started by art collectors Dan and Kathryn Mikesell in Miami in 2008. It aims to provide artists an opportunity to find new inspiration and facilitates the introduction of its visiting artists to the Miami art community.
Thank you for taking time to read this and for your support. I look forward to sharing with you my new work , sketches, pictures, videos and notes on my experiences in Miami and New York on this blog.