The key year in Zimbabwe-born U.K.-based painter Kudzanai-Violet Hwami’s career thus far is probably 2019. That year, she enrolled in the MFA program at Oxford’s Ruskin School of Art, had her first institutional solo exhibition at the London nonprofit Gasworks, and showed in Zimbabwe’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale. From there it took about a year for the secondary market to take notice, and in October 2020, her work made its auction debut when the work on paper Sango neMuchero
(2014) was offered in an online sale at Christie’s and fetched £37,500 (about $48,800), or more than seven times its high estimate. Then, on December 8th, her bold painting of a reclining nude, Eve on Psilocybin
(2018), was offered at a Phillips day sale with a high estimate of $40,000, which it surpassed sixfold, to eventually sell for $252,000. Two days later, it was announced she’d signed
with influential London dealer Victoria Miro.
Eve on Psilocybin’s record price still stands, though Bonhams, Christie’s, and Sotheby’s all took cracks at besting it last month. Sotheby’s came closest in its London sale of modern and contemporary African art on March 31st, when it offered another layered, pastel-accented reclining nude painting, Tampon Incision Study 3 (SJW), with a high estimate of £50,000 ($68,700). The work nearly tripled that sum, selling for £138,600 ($190,500), good for her second-highest price at auction, for now. With her solo debut at Victoria Miro in the pipeline, expect the waiting list for her work to be long and competitive.