Zenden is part of a series of work making reference to Gaika’s uncle, who arrived in Britain in the 1960s as part of the Windrush-generation deportees. The piece acts as a shrine that pays respect to lost heroes who bravely faced difficulties of assimilation when arriving as workers in a mostly white society. Their stories have become myths deeply ingrained in Gaika’s psyche, and are a point of inspiration for most of his works. Contemplating their fearless spirits, Gaika started obsessively drawing portraits of these lost individuals which eventually led him to create this work. The work is over-layered by the artist’s own music.
Gaika is from a Caribbean heritage, and grew up in south London. His creations always come from a deeply personal place, often relating to themes of displacement, particularly within the urban environment. As an artist and experimental rapper, his work also explores the impact of migration on music within the UK. While Gaika draws inspiration from this past, imagining the future is at the core of his work. Despite its often challenging themes, the work is also about a hope that we will one day see the day when Britain’s immigrants are liberated from the weight of the history of the empire.
Zenden is part of an installation originally shown at The British Art Show 9, a landmark touring exhibition that celebrates the vitality of recent art made in Britain.