Kimathi Mafafo (1984- )

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Bio

Kimathi Mafafo is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice ranges from embroidery, and oil painting to installation. Born in the semi-arid Kimberley in the Northern Cape of South Africa, Mafafo questions historical stereotypes around gender inequality in Africa. She primarily focuses on celebrating the black female and abstracted forms, placing them in often verdant imagery characterised by lush greenery and sensuous drapery, far removed from the dusty mining town where she grew up.

‘While her compositions may burst with riotous plant life, each leaf and frond remain meticulously executed. Her compositions are seductive in their level of detail yet remain curiously flat, emphasising their highly staged nature and the narrative element, which is central to her work. Her imagery is partly guided by her desire to celebrate the black female form, inspiring women to embrace their own worth and beauty. Her earliest works are partly autobiographical and tell the story of a woman withdrawing from the urban lifestyle and finding strength in nature and within herself. Mafafo works alongside Mustapha Saadu — a tailor from Ghana — with whom she has collaborated on a series of embroideries telling stories of women trapped under the weight of tradition and not fully realising their worth. Embroidery is an ancient transcendent, and Kimathi, as an emerging female artist, has found solace in the art form, transforming herself and her artwork.’ - 'This Woman’s Work’: a brief reading of Kimathi Mafafo’s artwork by Dr Same Mdluli, Arts Writer and Historian.

Mafafo’s practice in painting and embroidery work is a raw articulation of two mediums that have embodied the Black woman and/or female’s body within the tradition of women’s work. In these, she creates a tension between becoming and being, concealing and revealing, retreating and showing up, all of which embody the arduous negotiations Black women have to make in navigating their existence in society. Mafafo’s artworks can be found in important public and private collections worldwide.

Exhibitions

SOLO EXHIBITIONS

Upcoming
Ebullience, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London, United Kingdom

2023
'Wondering in the Unknown', Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Berlin, Germany

2022
‘Kgolagano – A Covenant’, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

2021
‘Gestures From the Awakened Mind’, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London, England

2019
‘Embolden’ at EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

2018
Solo Presentation at Investec Cape Town Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, South Africa

2017
‘Alone in Spring’, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

2015
‘Withdrawn’, World Art, Cape Town, South Africa


GROUP EXHIBITIONS

Upcoming
Soulscapes, curated by Lisa Anderson, Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, United Kingdom

2023
New Wave Art Wknd, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Florida, United States of America
‘Hiatus’, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa
'An Endless Night', curated by Anelisa Mangcu, The Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa
'Norval Foundation’s 6th Collectors’ Focus: The Kilbourn Collection', Norval Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa
'Talking Threads, Ode to the Maker: Embroidery', WereldMuseum, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Expo Chicago, EBONY/CURATED, Chicago, United States of America
Art Dubai, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Investec Cape Town Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa
‘Today, I Wish to Talk to You Dreams’, curated by Amogelang Maledu, The Mount Nelson, A Belmond Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa

2022
Also Known As Africa (AKAA), EBONY/CURATED, Paris, France
‘DIVERSITY’, Rupert Museum, Stellenbosch, South Africa
‘Geleceg(n)iDokumak’, CerModern Museum, Ankara, Turkey
‘(IM)MATERIALITY’, This Is Not A White Cube, Lisbon, Portugal
Art Paris, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Paris, France
Investec Cape Town Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

2021
‘A Very Loop Street Summer’, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa
‘Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt’, FNB Art Joburg, Open City, Keyes Art Mile, Rosebank, South Africa
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, London, United Kingdom
‘Threads’, The Duende Art Project, Monastery of the Zwartzusters, Antwerp, Belgium
Presentation with This Is Not a White Cube, Lisbon, Portugal
‘Facing the Sun’, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Schloss Goerne, Germany
‘Knotted Ties’, Lobby Gallery, New York, United States of America
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, (Virtual Representation) EBONY/CURATED, New York, United States of America
‘In [the] Loop, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

2020
‘Devils in The Details’, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London, United Kingdom
FNB Art Joburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Intersect Chicago online edition of SOFA Expo, Chicago, United States of America
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Nando's & Spier Arts Trust, London, United Kingdom
‘FEMINIST UTOPIA’ curated by Anelisa Mangcu, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa
LATITUDES Art Fair (Virtual Representation), EBONY/CURATED, Johannesburg, South Africa
1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, New York, United States of America
Investec Cape Town Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

2019
‘Angel’, St Antoine Church, in association with Muse Contemporary, Istanbul, Turkey
‘Spotlight’, LATITUDES Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, Johannesburg, South Africa
‘Botanica II’, Curated by Adele van Heerden for Art B Gallery, Bellville, South Africa
‘Textile’, Curated by Amy Pike for Dyman Gallery, Stellenbosch, South Africa
‘Filling in the Gaps’, Iziko South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
Investec Cape Town Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa
‘Connections’, Greatmore Studios, Cape Town, South Africa

2018
‘Also Known As Africa’ (AKAA), EBONY/CURATED, Paris, France
‘Summer Exhibition’, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

2017
‘Colourchart’, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa
Turbine Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED Stand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Art Africa Fair, Cape Town, South Africa
‘A Painting Today’, Stevenson, Cape Town, South Africa

2016
Turbine Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, Johannesburg, South Africa
‘Summer Exhibition’, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa

COLLECTIONS

Kilbourn Collection, Cape Town, South Africa
OLYM Collection, Belgium, Europe
Nelson Mandela Art Museum, Gqeberha, South Africa
The Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, Palm Beach, Florida, United States of America
William Humphreys Art Gallery, Kimberly South Africa
Standard Bank Corporate Art Collection, Johannesburg, South Africa
Africa First Collection, Israel
IZIKO South African National Gallery, Cape Town, South Africa
The Art Bank of South Africa, Oliewenhuis Art Museum, Bloemfontein, South Africa
The Irma Stern Museum, The University of Cape Town
Fondation H Museum, Antananarivo, Madagascar

SELECTED PRESS

Samuels, R. (2023) Art focus: Interview with Artist, Kimathi Mafafo. [AVAILABLE AT] https://crushmag-online.com/interview-with-artist-kimathi-mafafo/.

The Norval Sovereign African Art Prize 2022 Benefit Auction | (2022). [AVAILABLE AT] https://www.sothebys.com/en/digital-catalogues/the-norval-sovereign-african-art-prize-2022-benefit-auction.

INVESTEC Cape Town Art Fair 2023 | 17- 19 February (2023). [AVAILABLE AT] https://www.investec.com/en_za/focus/investec-cape-town-art-fair.html.

Times, A. (2022) AT FEATURE: 'Kgolagano – A Covenant’ – Kimathi Mafafo at Ebony CURATED - South African Art Times: [AVAILABLE AT] https://arttimes.co.za/at-feature-kgolagano-a-covenant-kimathi-mafafo-at-ebony-curated/.

Palumbo, J. (2021) Trends to watch in 2021: Craft Figuration | Artsy. [AVAILABLE AT] https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-trends-watch-2021-craft-figuration.

Sutton, B. (2021) Artsy Insider: Frieze Week’s breakout artists | Artsy. [AVAILABLE AT] https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-artsy-insider-frieze-weeks-breakout-artists.

7 off-piste shows to see during Frieze week (2021). [AVAILABLE AT] https://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/stories/7-off-piste-shows-to-see-during-frieze-week.

Works by Kimathi Mafafo (1984- )

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