Chikonzero (Chiko) Chazunguza is a Zimbabwean visual artist and provocateur, whose multimedia artworks raise searching questions about the postcolonial condition and about the unstable role and nature of art in its postcolonial context. Amongst his most compelling works are those that reinstate for the viewer a sense of ritual order and of life’s deeper mysteries, alongside proffering incisive, yet subtle social and political analysis.
Chiko was born and raised in the high-density suburb of Highfields, in Harare, Zimbabwe. In 1987, he won a scholarship to study at the Institute of Pictorial Arts in Sofia Bulgaria, where he earned his MFA and was trained in the classical modes of printmaking, drawing and painting. He spent 7 years in Bulgaria witnessing how the country was going through major political changes. In 1994 he returned to Zimbabwe in search of uniting his acquired European training with indigenous Zimbabwean art processes.
Chiko deliberately set out to re-connect with local modes of fabrication and visuality, exploring their areas of aesthetic overlap with Western traditions to produce new visual forms and new kinds of visual experiences. In his paintings as well as in his installations he has been known for experimenting with a variety of materials, including objects of everyday African life, challenging issues of post colonial conditions in Zimbabwe including land distribution, food insecurity, degrading environment, and traditional rituals.
While in Zimbabwe, Chiko was active in many different areas including teaching arts for more than 15 years at different Universities and Colleges. He functioned as Assistant Director at Zimbabwe Institute of Vigital Arts and Head of the Art Department at Harare Polytechnic College. Furthermore he functioned as Adjudicator for different institutions including the National Gallery in Zimbabwe and the National Gallery of Namibia. Chiko also coordinated and facilitated numerous workshops and festivals and was the art director of several short films. Lastly, he did lots of community activities ranging from supporting youth football clubs to fundraising for water pumps. Before feeling the pressure to leave Zimbabwe, Chiko established an artist resource center, Dzimbanhete Arts Interaction, which is still striving and could be an answer to the future of Zimbabwean contemporary art.
In 2009 Chiko arrived in Canada where he (once again) was confronted with the contrasting realities of ’here and there’, inspiring him to include elements describing the world of Western abundance and consumerism juxtaposing it with his memories of scarcity and strive. At the same time his powerful and yet so sensitive work deals with the ‘other world’ of spirituality and social responsibility. While in Canada, he has been striving at establishing, not only himself as an artist within the Canadian society, but also to create a platform from where he will share his knowledge and experience through teaching visual arts and his second passion, drumming. He is the recipient of numerous awards and has exhibited in several solo shows in Africa, Europe and North America, where his work has also been collected.