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)
2019 I Won’t Tell You, curated by Salimata Diop, SEPTIEME Gallery, Paris, France
2019 Mwaki Nginya Evinda Enge curated by Khanyisile Mbongwa Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya
2018 I Am Not My Father, curated by Sam Wroth Rietmann EBONY/CURATEDGallery, Cape Town, South Africa
2017 Changing Room, curated by Rose Jepkorir ,Kuona Trust Art Centre Nairobi
2019 Ostrale Biennale, Dresden, Germany
1.54 art fair London, Nil gallery, Art on paper Newyork , nil gallery.
2018 Kampala Art Biennale, Kampala, Uganda
Summer Exhibition, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa
Akaa art fair, Paris, ebony curated gallery.
2017. Washa,Akka project , Dubai, UAE
akaa art fair paris, ebony curated gallery SA
the opening,Reto Gallery, Windisch, Switzerland
Young Guns, Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya
2016 L’Atelier Art Competition, Absa Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
2015. Letters From the Other Side, Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Gallery, Wales,
Nyne Magazine, Exhibitionist, london
pthorp Gallery, London, UK
2015 Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Gallery, Wales
2019 Saffca ,Project space, johannesburg, South Africa
2019 Le Centre, Cotonou, Benin
2010 Film Africa, Nairobi
SAFFCA (Southern African Foundation for Contemporary Art)