Selected projects 2002–2017

 

SOME CLARITY OF VISION

 

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Some Clarity of Vision was Kimathi Donkor’s 2015 solo exhibition at Gallery MOMO in Johannesburg, South Africa.

New paintings made during a two-month residency were informed by research into the country’s history, whilst the artist’s experience of everyday life reignited his longstanding interest in black heroines and religious iconography.

FOR MOSES HAD MARRIED AN ETHIOPIAN WOMAN—NUMBERS 12:1

A life-sized double portrait in which the biblical, black wife of the prophet Moses seems to anticipate happily her impending Exodus to the promised land—while the site of the infamous Marikana mine massacre is visible on the horizon beyond.


 


AFRICANA UNMASKED

 

The Rescue of Andromeda by Kimathi Donkor (2011)



In 2016, Kimathi Donkor was awarded a PhD by Chelsea College of Arts for his practice-led research project Africana Unmasked: Fugitive Signs of Africa in Tate’s British Collection.

Taking studio practice as a starting point, Dr Donkor investigated how the ‘Home of British Art’ intersected with questions of African Diaspora and identity.

The Rescue of Andromeda (2011) was the centrepiece of Donkor’s lecture for
The Black Subject symposium held at Tate Britain in 2015. He is a senior lecturer in Fine Art and a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of the Arts London and also teaches at Middlesex University.


 

DADDY, I WANT TO BE A BLACK ARTIST

 

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In 2013, the London-based, black youth organisation ‘Leaders of Tomorrow’ joined Kimathi Donkor for
Daddy, I want to be a Black Artist—beginning with a series of visits and behind-the-scenes workshops exploring the Tate Gallery’s collection of work by African and Caribbean Diaspora artists.

Commissioned by the Peckham Platform gallery to produce new work based on these encounters, Donkor created paintings, drawings and an interactive print and digital installation called Learning Zone—that encouraged visitors to research Black British artists at Tate.


 


QUEENS OF THE UNDEAD

 

NANNY OF THE MARRONS FIFTH ACT OF MERCY


InIVA (the Institute of International Visual Art) commissioned Kimathi Donkor to produce new work for the solo show Queens of The Undead at Rivington Place, London, in 2012.

Each painting re-imagined historic, black, female commanders: Harriet Tubman, Queen Nanny of the Maroons, Yaa Asantewaa and Njinga Mbandi.

21st-century Londoners posed for Donkor’s portrayals of the ancient heroines and elements of each image were appropriated from the work of artists—such as Joshua Reyolds—who were contemporaries of the women depicted.

Dr David Dibosa and Professor Carol Tulloch wrote texts for the exhibition booklet; the gallery display was curated by Tessa Jackson and Grant Watson.


 
HAWKINS & CO
 

ELIZABETH REX LIVES_UK DIASPORA by Kimathi Donkor


In 2007, Kimathi Donkor organised a group show at London’s Elspeth Kyle Gallery. Called Hawkins & Co after the Elizabethan mariner Sir John Hawkins, the exhibition brought fresh, African Diaspora perspectives to the bicentenary of Britain’s 1807 Act to Abolish the Slave Trade.

In 2008, Donkor was invited to curate an expanded version of the project as a major, two-month exhibition at Liverpool’s Contemporary Urban Centre. The display included 70 artworks by 15 artists, including Keith Piper, Barbara Walker and Raimi Gbadamosi—with a new commission from Jean-François Boclé.

Also in 2008, Donkor’s solo exhibition Hawkins & Co was held at the The Market Theatre Gallery in Armagh, Northern Ireland.


 
FALL / UPRSING
 

MADONNA METROPOLITAN:THE DEATH OF CYNTHIA JARRETT


In 2005, The Bettie Morton Gallery— at the time, Britain’s only black-owned contemporary art space—invited Kimathi Donkor to exhibit a new body of work called Fall/Uprising.

The paintings were intended to mark 20 years since London’s urban disturbances of 1985, which had centred on the police shooting of Cherry Groce and the deaths of Cynthia Jarrett and Keith Blakelock.

In 2016, the
Wolverhampton Art Gallery acquired two paintings from the series—Madonna Metropolitan: the Death of Cynthia Jarrett (pictured) and Still Life: the Tottenham 3


 
CARIBBEAN PASSION: HAITI 1804
 

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Donkor’s first solo exhibition at London’s Bettie Morton Gallery was Caribbean Passion: Haiti 1804. Based on extensive research into the Haitian revolution, his series paintings produced between 2002 and 2004 celebrated the bicentenary of the Caribbean state’s declaration of independence. In 2005, the show toured to the Art Exchange Gallery in Nottingham, England.

Toussaint L’Overture at Bedourete draws on C.L.R. James’s description of the black general’s defiance in the face of Napoleon’s invading army. An account of the painting’s iconology can be found in Dr Philip Kaisary’s 2014 book The Haitian Revolution in the Literary Imagination.