Kaloki Nyamai, born in 1985 in Kitui, Kenya, lives and works in Nairobi. His first inspirations were his mother, who worked in fashion, and his grand-mother, who was a musician. It is his mother who first taught him how to draw and his grand-mother who would recount the stories history books do not tell. Drawing heavily on the stories of the Kamba people he was told by his grand-mother, Nyamai - a multidisciplinary artist who studied interior design, film and taught art classes before dedicating himself to his craft - explores how history and identity are intertwined. His works are multimedia and characterized by rich layers, offering fragments to be pieced together slowly. The lengthy, searching process employed in the making of the works is mirrored in the experience of viewing them. His work has been presented in fairs and exhibitions in Africa and Europe. In 2018, he participated in the third edition of the Kampala Biennale, curated by Simon Njami, with a monumental installation.


I think of my work as an open, multilayered conversation through which I question identity and how the tensions between past, present and future affect the way we are perceived and perceive ourselves to be. By layering and experimenting with different mediums, people, animals and abstract forms are revealed, working as symbols that help us look beyond the History we are taught in school, to the rich, often contradictory history made up of the stories of our ancestors shared directly, generation after generation, that took place before and without colonialism. It is only within and through these stories that we can begin the process of layering and texturing the flat identities provided to us by an education burdened by colonialism and its legacy.


Kaloki Nyamai (b. 1985, Kitui, Kenya)

Solo Exhibitions

2019     Mwaki Nginya Evinda Enge (The Fire Next Time), Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi

2018     I Am Not My Father, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town

Group Exhibitions

2019     Art on Paper, New York

2018     The Studio, Kampala Art Biennale, Kampala

2017     Washa, Createhub Gallery, Dubai
             Changing Room, Kuona Trust Art Centre Gallery, Nairobi
             Miradas, Gravity Art Gallery, Nairobi
             Young Guns, Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi

2016     L’Atelier Art Competition, Absa Gallery, Johannesburg
             Circle Art Gallery, Lamu

2015     Letters From the Other Side, Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Gallery, Wales
             Nyne Magazine, Exhibitionist Hotel, London
             Apthorp Gallery, London


2016    Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Gallery, Wales


2010     Film Africa, Nairobi

Private Collections

SAFFCA (Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art)