Peterson Kamwathi Kenya, b. 1980


“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.”

Born 1980 in Nairobi, Kenya, Peterson Kamwathi belongs to a generation of young East African artists that break with the traditional art canon. He currently lives in Kiambu, Kenya.
Peterson’s highly codified, symbolic, conceptual works, whose content and concepts go far beyond local relevance, distance themselves from the usual patterns of reception of figurative art from Kenya. Rendered in thick layers of charcoal, pastel, watercolor and collage, his figures are anonymous, static, almost abstract, a physical presence powerfully pushed to the forefront of the picture plane and the viewer’s attention by dense backgrounds devoid of vanishing points.
His practice, fostering the idea of art as a process-based and time-based project, often creates encapsulated visual archives by exploring contemporary themes in series and in layers, each group of works exploring social, political, personal and institutional structures symbolized through the depiction of the human figure. Each work is part of a series, thematically intertwined whilst individually delving deeper into the concept that informs the group.
Kamwathi’s work has been exhibited in numerous venues around the world including Kenya, the UK, the USA, Netherlands, Austria, El Salvador, Finland.
He has participated in several art residencies, including the Fontys Academie Kenya-Holland Exchange in 2003, Artists in Residence at the University of Kentucky, USA in 2005, printmaking residencies at the London Print Studio and Bath Spa University College in 2006, the Thupelo International Artist workshop in South Africa 2006, and Art Omi 2009 International Artists Residency, New York.
He was part of the Nairobi Art Trusts’ Amnesia Project and the Jet-Lag experiment project in 2008 and 2009 and exhibited at the 2010 and 2014 Dakar Biennale, Senegal. He continues to participate in several residencies in Europe and the US.