By John Owoo
(In Accra – Ghana)
Kenyan artist Kaloki Nyamai does not cease to engage viewers of his work with a convolution of interpretation, which he achieves through vibrant and subdued large-scale compositions.
Connecting between figuration and abstraction, his paintings that are currently on display at Gallery 1957 in Accra, show him as a consummate specialist, whose densely layered paintings challenge viewers to question issues on the global scene.
Employing rough backgrounds, his figures – which are clothed mostly in blue and whites – showcase a meeting of opinions, exchange of philosophies and a celebration of success notwithstanding the fact that they belong to different countries and cultures.
Charred and stitched canvasses with traumatized surfaces contain nude and fluid figures that enforce partial connotations, suggestions, references, beliefs, dreams and desires that appear to be intangible on the surface.
Undeniably, his expressionistic brushwork and dramatic colour schemes is a huge signal for action, which he expresses through two male figures in one of the works that connote a meeting of intellectuals.
Heavy metaphors and symbolism enable the viewer to stretch his / her imaginations in a situation where everything and everyone appear vague, ambiguous and uncertain while simulating complex interactions and social processes.
Originally trained in interior design and film, Nyamai launched his artistic career by creating figurative works that engaged with the realities of the informal settlement of his childhood in Kenya.
He has since evolved his practice into an investigation of personal identity and its connection to a wider collective history – this is evident in an on-going preoccupation with the hidden unrecorded narratives of his community and fragmented memories.
He has had solo and group exhibitions – these include Nairobi (Kenya), Cape Town South Africa), London (UK), Dubai (UAE) and Hamburg (Germany). His work was featured in the Kampala Biennial (2018) and is included in private collections across the globe.
The exhibition ends on Tuesday August 24, 2021.