The Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute Opens Its Doors for Mwili, Akili, na Roho

Courtesy: Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute

An intergenerational group of artists with diverse backgrounds, subject interests, and formal techniques are shown in the exhibition which features 10 Figurative Painters from East Africa.

Mwili, Akili na Roho was originally created by artist and NCAI (Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute) founder Michael Armitage, who brought together a group of artists who have influenced figurative painting in East Africa. It was first displayed as part of the exhibition “Michael Armitage: Paradise Edict” at the Haus der Kunst in Munich in 2020, and then at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2021. The third version of the show builds on the past two by adding more pieces from the Weltkulturen Museum collection, the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts, private collections in the UK, Kenya, and Japan, as well as pieces that the artists have loaned out themselves.

Mwili, Akili na Roho (Mind, Body, and Spirit in Swahili), an exhibition of more than 40 works produced between 1950 and 2000, offers a starting point for a greater introspection into the histories of artistic production in East Africa as well as the enduring influence of specific ideas and institutions on the production, dissemination, and reception of art in/from East Africa. These influences include politics and society, faith and religion, the natural and supernatural, and the body and sexuality.
The exhibit provides a place to start when exploring the development of East African painting historically. The artists, who have official and informal training, exhibit a variety of East African figurative paintings, with a focus on Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. The artists include, viz: Meek Gichugu (b. 1968), Elimo Njau (b. 1932), John Njenga (1966-1997), Theresa Musoke (b. 1942), Sane Wadu (b. 1954),  Peter Mulindwa (b. 1943), Asaph Ng’ethe Macua (b. 1930), Chelenge van Rampelberg (b. 1961), and Sam Joseph Ntiro (1923-1990

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