Tega Tafadzwa (b. 1985) is a Zimbabwean-born artist, currently based in Cape Town, South Africa. Being born and raised in an artistic family, Tafadzwa commenced with his art studies and exhibited at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, where he had his first solo show. After moving to Cape Town to pursue his artistic career, Tafadzwa found his main artistic inspiration in the face of the immigrant communities in the city.
Tafadzwa positively interprets the journeys of different people he meets in Cape Town, who share a similar fate to his own. Through his use of live models and photographs, Tafadzwa embraces the challenges which one faces as a foreigner. His artworks recompose the stories of strangers and friends, which inspired the bright and colorful painterly settings. Under his direction, his subjects take center stage, adopting somewhat theatrical poses – emphasizing a sense of grandiosity and pride in the face of change. Each portrait’s background pays homage to Tafadzwa’s deep sense of self and his Zimbabwean heritage. A wallpaper of Zumbani (the tea leaf from the fever tree) is a common motif in his canvases: the graphic curtains reflect the artist’s connection to the traditional plant, often used in his home country as a medicinal aid. This visual reference carries a powerful personal message for the artist: Zumbani acts as a symbol of his birth home, a token of remembrance, and as a protective talisman for the unknown journey ahead.
Tafadzwa’s work is radiant, hopeful, and filled with symbolism. Through reimagining his own life experiences, the artist creates a universal visual language which invites the viewer to explore the stories of those who face profound challenges in their personal journeys.