`Kiti Mezani – A Seat at The Table’ is talented multidisciplinary artist Washington Kirika Njoroge’s much-anticipated solo exhibition. This bold, colourful and digitally-inspired new body of artworks shine with a pride and positivity characteristic of the artist and his optimism. The exhibition represents a symbolic embracing of his generation, identity, and their demand for a seat at the proverbial table of life, commerce, politics and creativity as capable representatives of their future. This is an exciting new solo exhibition by the talented young Kenyan-born artist inspired by his contemporaries as muses, and by great masters of contemporary art such as the iconic Jean Michel Basquiat. Kirika’ Njoroge’s digital artistry affords us a unique perspective and insight into the lives of the African Millennial generation globally.
Digital Art, Portraiture and Colourful Figurative Abstraction
A critical contextual framework for Kirika’s works is surpassing neo-Afro pessimism about young people through his understanding of contemporary African society and the challenges young people face. How do they maintain their positivity, find joy and dream in a context historically deeming them as a `lost’ or disaffected generation?
The artist deliberately decides to eclipse the negative global analysis and predictions of what young Africans are doomed to encounter and experience as a result of economic forecasts and unsupported potential in their countries of origin across the African continent. Far from being oblivious to these challenges and the legacy of African youth being viewed as disaffected, Kirika is fully aware of the manner in which labels dismantle the confidence and positivity young people need to go up against the circumstances confronting them. African youth are depicted in this body of work as engaged, disaffected or disconnected from their reality because of economic challenges – as boldly expressive and vocal.
For Washington Kirika Njoroge each work is a story about a friend and peer, about youth, power, politics and life. He imbues the work with rich colour, humour and an uplifting positivity that represents the spirit of young Africans and their confidence. The artist’s first recollection of consciously making art is from doing so at the age of nine years onward. He reflects on how he enjoys portraiture and visually representing his generation, and `those who came before’ him ancestrally and describes how his subjects in his colourful artworks are more often than not people he knows personally. `I enjoy the idea that my community of friends and peers around me are part of my journey to capture us in the world for all time. They inspire me and so does the range of technology available to us as a generation to make our voices heard’.
Artistic Impulse, Motivation & Outlook
`My motive as a visual artist has always been to engage in absolute experimentation and creative evolution. I believe that will always change as a person and embrace that concept in my work because my art reflects me closely, so it is bound to always be changing and in flux too. I draw my biggest inspiration from the diversity of art, technology culture and music available to me as a young African, both traditional and modern expressions. I always perceive the art created on our continent as having a little more texture, layered relevance culturally and symbolically, and an intensity I do not always encounter in Western art forms. I love this depth and richness and how it is mine to access as part of my heritage and identity.’
The layered symbolism and positivity of his body of work intends to communicate hope as a generational statement with uplifting depictions of Black and African youth, creativity and enthusiasm which he enhances through his love and bold colour in his works. The artist cleverly turns a generational gaze on his subjects and brings to life their ideals and their world. He playfully explores figurative abstraction and digital mark-making as a reimagining of portraiture and painting using digital brushes and palette. The layered symbolism of his works sparkle with energy and play which emanates from the artist’s love of colour, art and music from a young age.
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A Young & Triumphant Africa Represented On Its Own Terms
`As a contemporary artist I do not believe in or subscribe to the idea of perfection. I believe there is beauty that exists all around us so the idea of a `perfectly sculpted’ human being or fictional character as the protagonist of any production or creative work is overplayed. Art to me feels better as a representation of what is – that always feels more genuine to me’. The final triumph of this solo exhibition project is not only the artist’s unique expression but how Kirika Njoroge makes his mark on visual culture while presenting the world with a vibrant and positive Africa full of life and defiant of lingering colonial-era depictions of the continent and her heritage. The exhibition `Kiti Mezani – A Seat at The Table’ represents Kirika’s creative coming of age – a celebration of his conceptual aptitude and social commentary as an artist who through his new solo project successfully claims his own place in the international art world’s round table of success.