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10 Figurative Painters from East Africa showcases a multigenerational group of artists varied in their backgrounds, thematic concerns, and formal strategies.

Peter Mulindwa (Uganda, b. 1943), Untitled, 1981, Oil on board
Peter Mulindwa (Uganda, b. 1943), Untitled, 1981. Oil on board. Courtesy of Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute.

The exhibition offers a starting point for critical engagement with the history of painting in East Africa. The artists, Sam Joseph Ntiro (1923-1990), Asaph Ng’ethe Macua (b. 1930), Elimo Njau (b. 1932), Jak Katarikawe (1940-2018), Theresa Musoke (b. 1942), Peter Mulindwa (b. 1943), Sane Wadu (b. 1954), Chelenge van Rampelberg (b. 1961), John Njenga (1966-1997), and Meek Gichugu (b. 1968), both formally and informally trained represent a cross-section of figurative painting from East Africa, particularly Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Composed of over 40 works created between 1950 and 2000, with subjects including politics and society, faith and religion, the natural and the supernatural, the body and sexuality, Mwili, Akili na Roho (Mind, Body and Spirit) offers an entry point for a deeper engagement with the genealogies of artistic creation in East Africa, and the enduring influence of certain ideas and institutions in the creation, dissemination and reception of art in/from East Africa.

Originally conceived by Michael Armitage, artist and founder of NCAI, bringing together a group of artists who have influenced figurative painting in East Africa, Mwili, Akili na Roho was first presented at Haus der Kunst, Munich (2020), then at the Royal Academy of Arts, London (2021), as part of ‘Michael Armitage: Paradise Edict’, curated by Anna Schneider, and Anna Ferrari respectively. This third iteration of the exhibition expands upon the first two, introducing additional works from the collection of the Weltkulturen Museum, Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts, private collections in Kenya, the UK, Japan, and works on loan directly from the artists.

The exhibition is on view from the 27th of October 2022 until the 28th of January 2023. For more information, please visit Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute.

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