Surfacing / 2014

Candice Breitz / Alfredo Jaar / Lisa Brice / Mikhael Subotzky / Clive van den Berg / mounir fatmi / Walter Oltmann / William Kentridge / Kudzanai Chiurai 22 March - 26 April 2014 Goodman Gallery, Cape Town

Surfacing is a group exhibition which allows for an exploration of the transient space between destruction and (re)construction. The exhibition aims to bring to light the fragments and residues that remain after destruction, and linger beneath a new form. In the preface to the 1961 edition of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, Jean-Paul Sartre writes “violence is man re-creating himself”. Although Sartre speaks of violence as a necessity for overthrowing colonial power, “no gentleness can efface the marks of violence; only violence itself can destroy them.” This exhibition understands Sartre’s notion to address culpability, selfhood and violence and trauma involved in the process of becoming, scrutinizing and (re)creating.

Liza Lou’s Dirty White (2011-14) is a painting woven entirely out of glass beads. Over a period of months, Lou and her studio assistants from eight different townships in KwaZulu-Natal wove white A4 sheets out of identical white beads. The resulting painting tells the story of its own making: pock marks, streaks, ruptures and dirt are imbedded in a kind of code that speaks of the blood, sweat and tears of everyday life. For Lou, it is precisely in the moments of imperfection that beauty emerges – quoting from Leonard Cohen’s Anthem (1992), Lou explains “there’s a crack in everything, that’s where the light gets in.”

Kendell Geers’ sculpture Country Of My Skull is made from a cannibal trophy from New Caledonia; an artifact that by
its very nature is politicised and stands as a reference to violence and terror. The work’s title is taken from Antjie Krog’s literary account of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission – and expresses the artist’s constant battle between the paradoxical distancing of himself from a prejudiced and vicious heritage and the acknowledgement that he can never be entirely removed from it. In WaitingWantingWastingWorking Kendell Geers has produced a generic bed made from polished steel and razor mesh. For Geers the industrial phenomenon of razor mesh production – based on separation and othering, is a metaphor for the predicament of South Africa during Apartheid – as well as a metaphor for the artist who was born into the apartheid regime and struggled to understand the violence he was born out of and simultaneously born into. WaitingWantingWastingWorking has been made to be beautiful and monumental, while at the same time maintaining the original violence which has so informed Geers’ production throughout his career.

One million points of light by Alfredo Jaar was shot off the coast of Angola, in Luanda. It was taken while standing, facing the ocean directly towards Brazil, in memory of the 14 million slaves sent from Angola to Brazil. Jaar’s photograph is inviting in its beauty and physicality; the way in which the image has been photographed and Jaar’s decision to use a lightbox to display the photograph means that surface of the image becomes almost tangible. It appears as if the light hitting the water becomes a layer that could be peeled back like skin, revealing the deep suffering to which the artist alludes.

In an abridged version of the large installation I was looking back, Mikhael Subotzky investigates the practice and mechanics of looking in relation to the history of South Africa, the history of photographic devices, and his own history as an artist. A number of the works on show have been smashed by the artist, creating a tension between document and object. The shattered surfaces become both unsettling and poignant, both concealing and recreating the image that lies beneath it.

mounir fatmi’s 3D rendered film Sleep Al Naim shows the writer Salman Rushdie sleeping peacefully, his bare chest heaving and falling to the rhythm of his breathing. The film borrows its imagery from Andy Warhol’s minimalist pop experimental film Sleep. Sleep Al Naim suggests the ambivalence of a physical abandonment, quiet and calm. Given the now notorious threats to Rushdie’s life, the film alludes to potential physical threat – and the viewer perhaps feels unease at watching Rushdie in a state of such vulnerability. This unease occurs against the alienation between the viewer and what is happening inside “Rushdie’s” mind – the ambivalence of quiet exists in these moments – when the torments of the mind exist in the unconscious.

William Kentridge’s 2007 body of work What Will Come is both a reflection on the way in which images are perceived and constructed by the human eye and a political statement about the violence and repercussions of colonialism. The works explore the Italian invasion of Ethiopia (at the time Abyssinia) in 1935-1936, drawing a connection between fascism and colonialism. Kentridge describes the works as “involving seeing twice. Seeing the image in one form and then reconstructing the image either in a mirror, or another optical device.” What Kentridge does then, is to deconstruct an image and ask for the viewer to reconstruct it using a series of optical devices. The drawings become fragments and remnants – with the full image existing only in the transient space of each viewer’s eye – and by extension mind. In evoking Italian amnesia about its colonial past, and the need for the re-evaluation of its violent heritage, Kentridge explores the duality of selfhood trauma involved in re-evaluating the self.

In Candice Breitz’s new video installation Treatment, the artist brings an original soundtrack to three key scenes from director David Cronenberg’s seminal film The Brood. In focusing on the family trauma at the heart of The Brood, Breitz pays tribute to Cronenberg’s ability to draw audiences into psychological identification with his characters, suggestively adding the voices of her own family to a palimpsest that already folds Cronenberg’s family narrative into that of the fictional family in The Brood. Staging an analogy between cinematic role-play and therapeutic role-play, The Brood and Treatment share – with their directors – a deep-seated interest in the formative nature of family relationships, a serious investment in the analytical potential of the moving image, and an absolute conviction in the potential of fiction to delve beneath the surface of things.

Haroon Gunn-Salie’s installation titled Amongst Men considers the figure of Imam Abdullah Haron, and the intersecting histories of Islam and the resistance to colonialism and apartheid in South Africa. The installation conceptually recreates Imam Haron’s funeral, which was attended by over 40 000 people after he was murdered by Apartheid police in 1969, by suspending a series of cast kufiya. It is accompanied by a haunting sound element: a recording of a poem written and read by James Matthews, which questions “Was he a patriot or terrorist?” – a reflection on the Imam’s legacy of resistance in contrast to his treatment at the hands of the Apartheid government.

Johan Thom’s work Recital (lend me your ears) consists of three prayer bead necklaces each fashioned from wooden beads, music strings and fifty individually engraved razorblades. Like a real set of prayer beads, the object is made to be handled as part of a highly personal, meditative reflection. The work exists as a silent symphony playing out in the mind of the viewer, and is constructed from the artist’s personal history as an immigrant from Europe. Thom states “this symphony has as much to do with my family, religion, as with war and the discovery of gold in Southern Africa in 1886. But more sinister meanings are present here: The appearance of sharp blades on the necklace serve to remind of the actual collection of ears as trophies by soldiers during the colonial wars in Africa. Instead of a crucifix each prayer bead terminates in another object associated with the larger history by and through which my identity is constructed.” As with Kentridge’s film, where the complete image exists only in the mind of the viewer, Thom’s violent heritage is replayed in the mind of each viewer who interacts with the components of the artist’s inherited history.

In The English Garden, Kudzanai Chiurai investigates Zimbabwe’s violent history as well as the way in which Africa is imagined in the west. Chiurai questions the “contemporary African condition” by juxtaposing the past and the present of a continent in the constant grip of violent civil wars. The painted body emerges from Chiurai’s landscapes as an ambivalent site, of simultaneous oppression and agency, as it negotiates the limits of action and freedom. It is precisely those moments of oppression and agency – destruction and reconstruction – that Chiurai explores, and that his characters simultaneously lament and cherish.

Artworks

About

Candice Breitz

Candice Breitz (b. 1972, Johannesburg, South Africa) is an artist whose moving image installations have been shown internationally. Throughout her career, Breitz has explored the dynamics by means of which an individual becomes him or herself in relation to a larger community, be that community the immediate community that one encounters in family, or the real and imagined communities that are shaped not only by questions of national belonging, race, gender and religion but also by the increasingly undeniable influence of mainstream media such as television, cinema and popular culture. Most recently, Breitz’s work has focused on the conditions under which empathy is produced, reflecting on a media-saturated global culture in which strong identification with fictional characters and celebrity figures runs parallel to widespread indifference to the plight of those facing real-world adversity.

Solo exhibitions of Breitz’s work have been hosted by the Kunstmuseum Bonn (Germany), Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Palais de Tokyo (Paris), The Power Plant (Toronto), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk), Modern Art Oxford, De Appel Foundation (Amsterdam), Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art (Gateshead), MUDAM / Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (Luxembourg), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), Castello di Rivoli (Turin), Pinchuk Art Centre (Kyiv), Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, Bawag Foundation (Vienna), Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin, White Cube (London), MUSAC / Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (Spain), Wexner Center for the Arts (Ohio), O.K Center for Contemporary Art Upper Austria (Linz), ACMI / The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne), Collection Lambert en Avignon, FACT / Foundation for Art & Creative Technology (Liverpool), Blaffer Art Museum (Houston) and the South African National Gallery (Cape Town). 

Selected group exhibitions include South Africa: the art of a nation (British Museum, London, 2016), Laughing in a Foreign Language (The Hayward, London, 2008), The Cinema Effect (Hirshhorn Museum + Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., 2008), Made in Germany (Kunstverein Hannover, 2007), Superstars (Kunsthalle Wien, 2005), CUT: Film as Found Object (Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, 2004), Continuity + Transgression (National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, 2002), Thank You for the Music (Kiasma Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki, 2012), Rollenbilder – Rollenspiele (Museum der Moderne Salzburg, 2011), Performa (New York, 2009), Contemporary Outlook: Seeing Songs (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2009), Remix: Contemporary Art and Pop (Tate Liverpool, 2002) and Looking at You (Museum Fridericianum, Kassel, 2001).

Breitz has participated in biennales in Johannesburg (1997), São Paulo (1998), Istanbul (1999), Taipei (2000), Kwangju (2000), Tirana (2001), Venice (2005, 2017), New Orleans (2008), Göteborg (2003 + 2009), Singapore (2011) and Dakar (2014). Her work has been featured at the Sundance Film Festival (New Frontier, 2009) and the Toronto International Film Festival (David Cronenberg: Transformation, 2013).

Her work has been acquired by museums including the Museum of Modern Art,the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Jewish Museum (in New York), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus (Munich), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), FNAC / Fonds national d’art contemporain (France), Castello di Rivoli (Turin), Hamburger Kunsthalle (Hamburg), M+ / Museum of Visual Culture (Hong Kong), Milwaukee Art Museum, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, MUDAM / Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (Luxembourg), MUSAC / Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (León, Spain), Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein (Vaduz), MONA / Museum of Old and New Art (Tasmania), QAG GOMA / Queensland Art Gallery (Brisbane), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) and MAXXI / Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (Rome).
Breitz holds degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg), the University of Chicago and Columbia University (NYC). She has participated in the Whitney Museum’s Independent Studio Program and led the Palais de Tokyo’s Le Pavillon residency as a visiting artist during the year 2005-2006. She has been a tenured professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Braunschweig since 2007.

Candice Breitz lives and works between Cape Town, South Africa and Berlin, Germany. 

Alfredo Jaar

Alfredo Jaar (b. 1956, Santiago, Chile) is an artist, architect, and filmmaker who considers social injustices and human suffering through thought-provoking installations. Throughout his career Jaar has used different mediums to create compelling work that examines the way we engage with, and represent humanitarian crises. He is known as one of the most uncompromising, compelling, and innovative artists working today.

Through photography, film and installation he provokes the viewer to question our thought process around how we view the world around us. Jaar has explored significant political and social issues throughout his career, including genocide, the displacement of refugees across borders, and the balance of power between the first and third world.

Jaar’s work has been shown extensively around the world. He has participated in the Biennales of Venice (1986, 2007, 2009, 2013), Sao Paulo (1987, 1989, 2010) as well as Documenta in Kassel (1987, 2002).

Important individual exhibitions include The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1992); Whitechapel, London (1992); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1995); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1994);The Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2005) and The Nederlands Fotomuseum (2019). Major recent surveys of his work have taken place at Musée des Beaux Arts, Lausanne (2007); Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2008); Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlinische Galerie and Neue Gesellschaft fur bildende Kunst e.V., Berlin (2012); Rencontres d’Arles (2013); KIASMA, Helsinki (2014); and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2017).

The artist has realised more than seventy public interventions around the world. Over sixty monographic publications have been published about his work. He became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1985 and a MacArthur Fellow in 2000. He was awarded the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2018, and has recently received the prestigious Hasselblad award for 2020.

His work can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MOCA and LACMA, Los Angeles; MASP, Museu de Arte de São Paulo; TATE, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centro Reina Sofia, Madrid; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MAXXI and MACRO, Rome; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlaebeck; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and Tokushima Modern Art Museum, Japan; M+, Hong Kong; and dozens of institutions and private collections worldwide.

The artist lives and works in New York, USA.

Lisa Brice

Lisa Brice (b.1968, Cape Town, South Africa) negotiates the precarious terrain of artistic production, as she moves between practices of spontaneous drawing and figure painting. She makes use of unexpected painting and printing techniques on a variety of surfaces, which include canvas and tracing paper. For Brice, the act of tracing often leads her to a repetition of similar motifs or figures in her work, sometimes biographical, and at other times art historical: ‘I am attracted to the idea of repetition,’ Brice remarks. ‘Chasing that high, stories told and retold.’

In 2006 Brice had her first solo exhibition of paintings at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, titled Night Vision, in which she reflected on the uncertainties of childhood. In 2009, a solo show, More Wood for the Fire, was presented at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg; the exhibition detailed Brice’s relationship with the island of Trinidad. In 2011, Brice’s work was included in the Vitamin P2 publication, Phaidon’s major anthology of international painting. In 2012, Brice presented a solo exhibition titled Throwing the Floor at Goodman Gallery in Cape Town. She has had subsequent shows at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg in 2015 titled Well Worn, and in June 2016 she was included on a show at Camden Art’s Centre in London Making & Unmaking curated by Duro Olowu. Brice had her first solo museum exhibition in the UK at the Tate Britain in 2018, where she exhibited large scale paintings which addressed the longstanding art-historical tradition of the female nude.

The artist lives and works in London, UK.

Mikhael Subotzky

Mikhael Subotzky (b. 1981, Cape Town) is a Johannesburg based artist whose works in multiple mediums (including film installation, video, photography, collage and painting) attempt to engage critically with the instability of images and the politics of representation.

Subotzky has exhibited in a number of important international exhibitions, including most recently Masculinities: Liberation through Photography at the Barbican in London (2020), Inheritance: Recent Video Art from Africa at the Fowler Museum (UCLA) in Los Angeles (2019) and Ex Africa in various venues in Brazil (2017-18). His award-winning Ponte City project (co-authored with Patrick Waterhouse) was presented at Art Basel Unlimited in 2018. The full exhibition and archive of this
project has since been acquired by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and will be the subject of a monographic exhibition there in 2021.

Subotzky’s work is collected widely by international institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Solomon R Guggenheim Museum (New York), the National Gallery of Art (Washington), Tate (London), Centre Pompidou (Paris), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the South African National Gallery, among others.

Subotzky’s work was included in Lubumbashi (2013) and Liverpool (2012) biennials. Pixel Interface, a multi-component video installation, was included in All The World’s Futures, curated by Okwui Enwezor at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015).

Clive van den Berg

Clive van den Berg (b. 1956, Zambia) is an artist, curator and designer, who works on his own and in collaboration with colleagues in a collective called trace, whose primary activities are the development of public projects. He has had several solo exhibitions in South Africa, and his work is regularly exhibited abroad. His public projects have included the artworks for landmark Northern Cape Legislature and, since he has joined the trace team, museum projects for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Constitution Hill, Freedom Park, the Workers Museum, The Holocaust and Genocide Centre and many other projects.

Van den Berg has much experience working on large-scale institutional projects with teams representing diverse constituencies: urban planners and policy makers, architects, landscape designers, museum curators, historians, community liaison officials and representatives of local and national governments. In the Northern Cape, for example, where he worked with the Luis Ferreira da Silva architects, he pioneered a new strategy for integrating forms of the local landscape and indigenous aesthetics into the overall building design, while also training local artisans as part of a skills transference project aimed at long-term sustainability. The result is a world-renowned and uniquely South African state edifice: a monument to the people of the Northern Cape.

mounir fatmi

mounir fatmi was born in Tangiers, Morocco, in 1970. When he was four, his family moved to Casa-blanca. At the age of 17, he traveled to Rome where he studied at the free school of nude drawing and engraving at the Acadaemy of Arts, and then at the Casablanca art school, and finally at the Rijksakad-emie in Amsterdam.

He spent most of his childhood at the flea market of Casabarata, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Tangiers, where his mother sold children’s clothes. Such an environment produces vast amounts of waste and worn-out common use objects. The artist now considers this childhood to have been his first form of artistic education, and compares the flea market to a museum in ruin. This vision also serves as a metaphor and expresses the essential aspects of his work. Influenced by the idea of de-funct media and the collapse of the industrial and consumerist society, he develops a conception of the status of the work of art located somewhere between Archive and Archeology.

By using materials such as antenna cable, typewriters and VHS tapes, mounir fatmi elaborates an experimental archeology that questions the world and the role of the artist in a society in crisis. He twists its codes and precepts through the prism of a trinity comprising Architecture, Language and Machine. Thus, he questions the limits of memory, language and communication while reflecting upon these obsolescent materials and their uncertain future. mounir fatmi’s artistic research consists in a reflection upon the history of technology and its influence on popular culture. Consequently, one can also view mounir fatmi’s current works as future archives in the making. Though they represent key moments in our contemporary history, these technical materials also call into question the transmission of knowledge and the suggestive power of images and criticize the illusory mechanisms that bind us to technology and ideologies.

Since 2000, Mounir fatmi’s installations have been selected for several biennials, the 52nd and 57th Venice Biennales, the 8th Sharjah Biennale, the 5th and 7th Dakar Biennales, the 2nd Seville Biennale, the 5th Gwangju Biennale, the 10th Lyon Biennale, the 5th Auckland Triennial, the 10th and 11th Bamako Bien-nales, the 7th Shenzhen Architecture Biennale, the Setouchi Triennial and the Echigo-Tsumari Trienni-al in Japan. His work has been presented in numerous personal exhibits, at the Migros Museum, Zur-ich. MAMCO, Geneva. Picasso Museum La Guerre et la Paix, Vallauris. AK Bank Foundation, Istan-bul. Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf and at the Gothenburg Konsthall. He has also participated in several group exhibitions at the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Brooklyn Museum, New York. Palais de Tokyo, Paris. MAXXI, Rome. Mori Art Museum, Tokyo. MMOMA, Moscow. Mathaf, Doha, Hayward Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and at Nasher Mu-seum of Art, Durham.

He has received several prizes, including the Uriöt prize, Amsterdam, the Grand Prix Léopold Sédar Senghor at the 7th Dakar Biennale in 2006, as well as the Cairo Biennale Prize in 2010.

Walter Oltmann

Born in 1960 in Rustenburg, Gauteng, South Africa, Walter Oltmann’s main area of focus is sculpture, and more particularly in fabricating woven wire forms, which sometimes reference local craft traditions. He has researched and written on the use of wire in African material culture in this region and is deeply interested in the influence of these traditions in contemporary South African art. He has had numerous solo exhibitions with the Goodman Gallery, and has created several large-scale commissions for venues such as the Zeitz Sculpture Garden in Segera, Kenya.

William Kentridge

William Kentridge’s artist website can be visited here and Instagram account here

William Kentridge was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1955. His career has spanned five decades and his work has been shown in major museums, galleries, fairs and biennials around the world since the 1990s, including Documenta in Kassel, Germany (1997, 2003, 2012), the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1998, 2010), the Albertina Museum in Vienna (2010), Jeu de Paume in Paris (2010), and the Musée du Louvre in Paris (2010), where he presented Carnets d’Egypte, a project conceived especially for the Egyptian Room. Kentridge’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was presented at Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Festival d’Aix, and in 2011 at La Scala in Milan, and his production of Shostakovich’s The Nose was seen at The New York Metropolitan Opera in 2010 and again in 2013, travelling to Festival d’Aix and to Lyon in 2011. The five-channel video and sound installation The Refusal of Time was made for Documenta (13) in Kassel, Germany, in 2012; since then it has been seen at MAXXI in Rome, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and in many other cities including Boston, Perth, Kyoto, Helsinki and Wellington. A substantial survey exhibition of Kentridge’s work opened in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, going on in following years to Porto Alegre, São Paulo, Bogota, Medellin, and Mexico City. In the summer of 2014 Kentridge’s production of Schubert’s Winterreise opened at the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Aix, and Holland Festival. In the fall it opened at the Lincoln Center in New York. Paper Music, a concert of projections with live music by Philip Miller, opened in Florence in September 2014, and was presented at Carnegie Hall in New York in late October 2014. Both the installation The Refusal of Time and its companion performance piece Refuse the Hour were presented in Cape Town in February 2015. More recently, Kentridge’s production of the Alban Berg opera Wozzeck premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2017 and last year his acclaimed performance project The Head & The Load opened at Tate Modern in London, and travelled to Park Avenue Armory in December 2018. In June 2019, A Poem That I Used To Know opened at Kunstmuseum, Basel in Switzerland, which travelled to LaM in Lille in early 2020. Why Should I Hesitate, a major survey show, divided across the Norval Foundation and Zetiz MOCAA, both in Cape Town, opened in late August 2019 and will run until July 2020. In addition, Kentridge’s new opera project, Waiting for the Sibyl, premiered at Teatro dell’Opera di Roma in September 2019 and will be seen in several European cities in 2020.

In 2010, Kentridge received the prestigious Kyoto Prize in recognition of his contributions in the field of arts and philosophy. In 2011, he was elected as an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and received the degree of Doctor of Literature honoris causa from the University of London. In 2012, Kentridge presented the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard University and was elected member of the American Philosophical Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Also in that year, he was awarded the Dan David Prize by Tel Aviv University, and was named as Commandeur des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. In 2013, William Kentridge was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts by Yale University and in 2014 received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cape Town. In 2017, Kentridge received the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts in Spain and 2019, he was honoured with the Praemium Imperiale Laureate: Painting by the Japan Art Association in Tokyo.

Kudzanai Chiurai

Kudzanai Chiurai (b. 1981, Zimbabwe) was born one year after Zimbabwe’s emergence from white-ruled Rhodesia. Chiurai incorporates various media into his practice, which is largely focused around cycles of political, economic and social strife present in post-colonial societies.

Chiurai’s artwork confronts viewers with the psychological and physical experience of African metropolises. From large mixed media works and paintings to photography and video, Chiurai tackles some of the most pressing issues facing these environments, such as xenophobia, displacement and inequality.

Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions since 2003 and has participated in various local and international exhibitions, such as Figures & Fictions: Contemporary South African Photography (2011) at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and Impressions from South Africa, 1965 to Now (2011) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Other notable exhibitions include The Divine Comedy: Heaven, Purgatory and Hell Revisited curated by Simon Njami at Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt (2014) and SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah USA (2015), as well as Art/Afrique, Le nouvel atelier (2017) at the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Regarding the Ease of Others (2017) at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Genesis [Je n’isi isi]- We Live in Silence at IFA in Stuttgart, Germany and Ubuntu, a Lucid Dream (2020) at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

Chiurai’s Conflict Resolution series was exhibited at dOCUMENTA (13) (2012) in Kassel and the film Iyeza was one of the few African films to be included in the New Frontier shorts programme at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013. Chiurai has held numerous solo exhibitions with Goodman Gallery and has edited four publications with contributions by leading African creatives.

At present the artist lives and works in Harare, Zimbabwe.