Fresh off exhibiting at the African Art Fair 2015 in Paris and the United Nations’ Milano Expo, Ronald Muchatuta is now working on his latest body of work which is inspired by the theme of African migration and more specifically the recent xenophobic attacks that transpired in South Africa earlier this year
The Cape Town-based, Zimbabwean-born contemporary artist has created a collection of paintings titled The African Immigration Series which deals with the issues of immigration and xenophobia.
“The African Immigration Series is an ongoing body of work paying homage to the African migrants who were brutally killed earlier this year during the xenophobic attacks. African migration has taken its toll on black people affected by war and economic pressures, and is currently a pressing issue – from the recent Xenophobic attacks that happened in South Africa to the Nigerian women practising prostitution in the forests of Italy. I created this series to remind South Africans about the ugly truth of intolerance. The intention is to start a conversation as we observe Reconciliation day about how we are going to move forward peacefully and make sure such atrocities to humankind never happen again,” comments Muchatuta.
Muchatuta uses the red, blue and white pattern from the China bag which is also referred to as ‘Zimbabwe must go’. The China bag is made from large woven plastic bags and commonly used by migrants to carry belongings while they travel across borders. The bags are known by different names throughout the continent for example, in Zimbabwe they are called the ‘Mbare bag’, in West Africa they’re known as ‘Ghana must go’, and in Johannesburg they are called ‘Shangani Bag’.
The paintings portray intense symbolism and the brutality involved during xenophobic attacks, such as the figures with rubber tires around their necks. This is known as Necklacing, the practice of summary execution and torture carried out by forcing a rubber tire, filled with gasoline, around a victim’s chest and arms, and setting it on fire.
Coinciding with South Africa’s reconciliation day on 16 December, the series is part of the Aesthetically Vogue group exhibition at Eclectica Design & Art in Cape Town which will be showcased until 31 January 2016.