ARTLabAfrica, Nairobi


26 Windy Ridge, Nairobi 502, Kenya



Born in Nairobi in 1978, Beatrice Wanjiku is one of Kenya’s most exciting and original conceptual artists. Her distinctive canvases and works on paper constantly probe the human condition, delving into psychological issues and repeatedly questioning our reality and the space we occupy. Utilising her personal perspective as a departing point, Wanjiku’s practice scratches away at the superficial images we project in daily life, peeling away the layers that constitute social norm and revealing haunting, abstract figures.

Analysing the structure of the individual, confined by society’s expectations and preconceived notions and patters of behaviour, Wanjiku’s works explore the idea of boundaries and imposed systems of thought in contemporary society. The works delve into how we are anchored by social conditioning, always bound at the expense of who we really are. There is tension and restlessness in this intriguing group of works which explore emotions through a rich, unsettling tapestry of abstract figures. Haunting, shadowy and dramatic, Wanjiku’s richly layered figures are pushed onto the picture plane, sometimes alone, sometimes grouped in clusters. Often working in series, her recent canvases, Savages, question our consumer led society, analysing our eternal quest for success and the self-destruction we leave in its wake. Unable to learn from our mistakes, the paintings explore the innately self-destructive nature of human society, constantly consuming ourselves and our environment in a cyclical pattern we appear unable to break.

Wanjiku graduated from Nairobi’s Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts in 2000 and lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya. Her recent exhibitions include The OSTRALE 2015, Dresden, Germany (2015). She is a recipient of the UNESCO Aschberg Bursary (2013); Lava Thomas and Peter Danzig Fellowship Award (2013); Robert Sterling Clarke Foundation Fellowship (2011). Her recent residencies include the Iwalewa Haus Artist Residency Program, Bayreuth, Germany (2015), Djerassi Resident Artist Program, Woodside, CA (2013), and Vermont Studio Center Program, Johnson, VT (2011). 

Beatrice Wanjiku, I am and I am not II, 2016, Acrylic and pastel on canvas, 70 x 60 cm
Beatrice Wanjiku, I am and I am not, 2016, Acrylic and pastel on canvas, 70 x 60 cm
Beatrice Wanjiku, Untitled II, 2017, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 150 x 100 cm
Beatrice Wanjiku, Untitled, 2017, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 150 x 200 cm (diptych)