“My work is an attempt at depicting the different issues that
impact on my society and me and, at times, issues that affect the world as a
whole. These issues are social, political or environmental, depending on the specific
concerns at the given time.” - Peterson Kamwathi
Arguably the Kenyan artist with the highest international profile among those still resident in Kenya, Kamwathi has recently sold his work to the British Museum. He has exhibited throughout the world and has participated in residencies in many places.
A career that started in the study of animation and went on to print-making offers a possible explanation for the use of dense charcoal as a medium of choice for his pivotal Sitting allowance series: an eight part body of work produced on a monumental scale (each 8’ x 5’) in response to the violent Kenyan election of 2007/8.
Kamwathi’s most significant production occurs in several series or clusters as he likes to refer to them: Bulls, Donkeys, Sheep, ‘Sitting Allowance’, and Queues including his works on the new Kenyan Constitution. Earlier work tended to use animals to convey strongly nuanced political messages whilst an ever present thread running through his recent work is his ongoing investigation into the cultural, social, economic and, most importantly, political parameters which shoe-horn society into the ubiquitous queue. What started as a study of slave trains, themselves a type of queue, grew to encompass the voting public, riot police, demonstrating students, judicial arbitrators, medical personnel, politicians and ultimately, the internally displaced.
He lives in Kiambu, Kenya.