Bokani’s technique involves urgent, gestural movements, exploring and responding to colours as they interact on the canvas. She believes in the integrity, freedom and honesty of abstract painting. Bokani has developed a method over several years of creating rational patterns that lead the viewers’ eye across the paintings, reminiscent of the dancing African printed cloths of her childhood.
Bokani’s work is characterised by spontaneous, vibrant colour, fuelled by an exploration of themes and motifs engaging the viewer intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Painting has empowered her to move past the childhood loss of both parents to resolve questions of global female identity, black African heritage and belonging.
Bokani’s resilient, triumphant and optimistic attitude is conveyed by the powerful and vivid use of colour, structure and texture. Chiefly concerned with our response to the climate crisis, her paintings elicit a new response to nature. Bokani draws on Laudato Si, published in 2015, using a printing technique which carries over paint in patterns of relation to illustrate the idea of integral ecology. The details of the paintings are evocative of natural patterns, colours and textures, creating a visual poem to the concept of integral ecology which describes our patterns of connection to all life.
This tension between creative abandon, emotional expression and technical discipline elicit dynamic responses, creating works that are an on-going conversation between the artist and the viewer.
Her digital works are infused with her colourful aesthetic and spiritual conversation, engaging with the powerful technology influences of our time; machine learning, computer visioning and artificial intelligence.
Bokani Tshidzu was born in Zimbabwe and moved to England as a teenager. Her work is blending an African sensibility with the traditions of conceptual western art. She studied Politics with Economics (2009) at the University of Bath, as well as a Masters in Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London (2020) specialising in Computational Art. The key theme of her digital practice is journey, creating a narrative that takes viewers on an immersive experience.
She was co-founder of a sustainability software firm for six years and has worked in finance and politics. Following a spiritual journey on foot across the north of Spain, on the Ignatian Camino, Bokani made the commitment to working as an artist. She was discovered by BBC 1 for the show ‘The Big Painting Challenge’, and won the public vote in the first week.
She is living and working in Bow, in London’s East End. Her work has been exhibited across the UK and in Paris.
She is represented in London by Shoreditch gallery, The Old Bank Vault.
University of Bath
Politics with Economics Bsc - 2009
Goldsmiths College, University of London
Computational Art, MA - 2021
Royal Drawing School
The Drawing Week with Francis Hoyland and Cherry Pickles - December 2017
Victoria and Albert Museum
Fashion Illustration with Christopher Kelly November 2017
How to Run an Artist in Residence Programme November 2017
Curating #101 November 2017
Conference: Black Art, Black Power, Responses to Soul of a Nation October 2017
Advent 2020, St Paul's Hammersmith, 2020
Bare & Bond, Old Bank Vault (London, UK), 2019
Art for Air, Old Bank Vault (London, UK), 2019
Blessed Art Thou Amongst Women, Mount St Jesuit Centre (London, UK), 2019
getLerped, Goldsmiths College (London, UK), 2018
Renaissance, Espace7 (Paris, France), 2018
Chapter Ten, Library Members Club (London, UK), 2018
Still Life, Glasgow Distillery (Glasgow, Scotland), 2017
Still Life, House for an Art Lover, (Glasgow, Scotland), 2017
Landscape, Westonbirt Arboretum (Cotsworld, UK), 2017
Expression, Library Members Club (London, UK) , 2015 – Solo show
BBC Big Painting Challenge, Winner of the Public Vote, 2018
The Independent - ‘Fine art can be black’
The Telegraph - The Big Painting Challenge
BBC 1 - The Big Painting Challenge
The Guardian - Social enterprise lessons from the American South
Photo: Becky Mursell