1:54 London 2018
BOOTH W9, WEST WING, SOMERSET HOUSE, LONDON 4 – 7 OCTOBER 2018
Shabu Mwangi (Kenya b. 1985)
Shabu Mwangi’s work focuses on structural violence in society, notions of rootlessness and alienation, particularly the trauma of forced migration, and the reality of finding oneself excluded from a society’s vision of itself. His new works – emotionally charged portraits – consider identity, and the constant struggle of negotiating one’s perception of self against socially established and enforced collective identities. Mwangi’s work studies various forms of violence arising from social, economic and political divisions. He looks at our interaction with one another and our situation and the motivation behind action taken during volatile political periods.
Shabu Mwangi lives and works in Mukuru where he established the Wajukuu Art Project with a deep conviction that his work could highlight the lives of the disadvantaged minorities in his community. He has collaborated on community initiatives with organizations including Art2be and Hope Worldwide. In 2017 he was the artist in residence at S27 Kunst Und Bildung, Berlin, 2017. His previous exhibitions include: Stateless, a solo exhibition at Circle Art Gallery in 2017; Pop-Up Africa, GAFRA, London, 2017; Out of the Slum, Essen, Germany, 2012 and various other group and solo exhibitions in Nairobi. His work has also been shown at AKAA Paris in 2016 and 2017, and the Investec Cape Town Art Fair 2018.
Ian Mwesiga (Uganda b. 1988)
Ian Mwesiga has a BA in Fine Art from the Margaret Trowell School of Industrial and Fine Arts, Makerere University, Uganda in 2014. He has done residencies at 32° East, Ugandan Arts Trust, in Kampala and the Kuona Trust Centre for Visual Arts, Nairobi in 2014. His has had solo exhibitions at the Makerere Art Gallery (MIHCR), Kampala, in 2015 and at the AKA Gallery, Kampala, 2014, alongside numerous group exhibitions including Young Guns, at Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, 2017; the African Culture and Design Festival (ACDF), Lagos 2017; Forward Ever Backward Never, Framer Framed, Amsterdam, 2015; and East African Encounters, at Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, 2014. Mwesiga was a selected artist for the 2014 edition of KLA ART, and a recipient of the Goethe Institut’s Moving Africa grant for the 2014 Dak’art Biennale. In 2015 Mwesiga participated in the AtWork workshop facilitated by Simon Njami and the Asiko Art School in Maputo facilitated by Bisi Silva and CCA Lagos.
Mwesiga’s current work is an exploration of black portraiture and memory, referencing styles and trends from post-independence Uganda. Beginning as a defiant response to colonial images encountered in the National Museum of Uganda, Mwesiga’s portraits combine figures and motifs drawn from public and private photographic archives. He creates portraits in imagined physical and temporal settings that strive against the reductive visions of Africa’s past and present that pervade mainstream media. This exercise in memory and storytelling yields rich portraits, which represent the artist’s attempt at figuring out what he describes as a progressive Africa.
Dennis Muraguri (Kenya b. 1980)
Dennis Muraguri has a Diploma in Painting and Art History from the Buruburu Institute of Fine Art, Nairobi (2015), and has been a resident artist at the Kuona Artists’ Collective (formerly the Kuona Trust Art Centre) since 2005. He has exhibited extensively in Nairobi, including a solo exhibition at Circle Art Gallery, 2016, Jua Kali, 2014, a collaborative installation with Tahir Karmali and Tonney Mugo which went on to be included in Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design at the Vitra Design Museum. He has participated in international art fairs such as 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair, London, 2016, and the Jo’burg Art Fair, 2016. Muraguri was one of the selected artists for the 2014 edition of the KLA Public Art Festival, in Kampala, Uganda. He will be an artist in residence at Espaço Luanda Arte, in Luanda, Angola in 2019. He has also been selected to exhibit at the 2018 edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale.
For Muraguri, the matatus function as both conveyors for and avatars of the inhabitants of the city, tracing their interactions in/with public space. His sculptural and installation-based works merge natural and man-made materials to produce creatures and totems that hint at the legacies of industrialization and rapid urbanization. His is a practice that relies on the familiar, the material of the here and now, to comment on the maneuvering and negotiation that marks living in a Kenya’s contemporary urban centres, while inducing in the viewer a sense of wonder.
Muraguri’s sculptural and installation-based works combine wood and found metal, merging the natural and the man-made to create singular creatures and totems that hint at the legacies of industrialization and rapid urbanization. Altogether, Muraguri’s is a practice that relies on the familiar, the material of the here and now, to comment on the maneuvering and negotiation that marks living in Kenya’s contemporary urban centres, while inducing in the viewer a sense of wonder.