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artists in Kenya

Travel to Nairobi for 12 Best Contemporary Artists in Kenya

Travel to Nairobi
Kenyan artist Paul Onditi with guests at the Onyis Martin Talking Walls show at The ART Lab Africa, 523 Riara Road, Nairobi, Kenya.

Image Credit – artlabafrica

African artists are finally getting the attention they deserve. Their artworks are inspired by Africa’s unique history and culture. These artists effectively explore their relationship with the continent and the rest of the world with countries like Kenya leading the way. Nairobi is the commercial center of East Africa and is emerging as a crucial hub for art with a growing list of modern art spaces. Some notable art galleries in Nairobi are ART Lab Africa, Circle Art Gallery, The Banana Hill Art Gallery, Nairobi Art Gallery, and more.

Looking for the best artists in Africa? There are many artists in Kenya who are gaining strong reputations around the world – Peterson Kamwathi has an exhibition at London’s 50 Golborne Gallery while Osborne Macharia became PhotoVogue Selected Artists in 2019 and Beatrice Wanjiku showed her work ‘Unsettled’ at Duende Art Projects in Belgium this year.

 

While many Nairobi art spaces shut their doors and others lost artistic energy, the local art scene remained vibrant. Do you want to stay at luxurious hoteWhile many Nairobi art spaces shut their doors and others lost artistic energy, the local art scene remained vibrant. Do you want to stay at luxurious hotels in Nairobi? Travel to Nairobi to see the vibrant art scenes and stay at 254 Ole Sereni – one of the best hotels in Nairobi.

Best Artists in Kenya You Should Know

What Kenya is famous for? Let’s take a look at art from Kenya with these brilliant artists, their inspiration, and their relationship with their home country.

1. Alex Wainaina

Alex Wainaina
Mixed color butterflies by Alex Wainaina - one of the top artists in Kenya.

Image Credit – bananahillgallery

Alex Wainaina, the best African artist uses recycled scrap metal to make sculptures in creative ways. He is a self-taught artist and has been making sculptures for the last 12 years. While studying agricultural engineering, he found his love for working with metal and took a different path.

Banana Hill Art Gallery

Image Credit – bananahillgallery

Animals, fishes, insects, and religious figures are the most common subjects in his metal sculptures. Wainaina uses modern materials to create traditional crafts. He shows the materials of his works by keeping the rough metal finish and using the oddly shaped parts he gives the final appearance to the object. The Banana Hill Art Gallery in Nairobi Kenya represents him.

2. Gor Soudan

Gor Soudan

Image Credit – a-i-t.net

Gor Soudan is one of the top artists in Africa and works in Nairobi. He uses recycled materials to create exquisite art that engages with political and social issues in the country. He has worked with cartons, plastic, shopping bags, etc., and “protest wire,” – a tangled black mass of wire from car tires burnt during political unrest in Nairobi in 2008.

Gor Soudan
Drawing in space, media; bicycle cables( Free town, Sierra Leone project), 2014.

Image Credit – a-i-t.net

Bubbles & Shells is his most recent project that uses protest wire and natural materials. It explores many things among the elements he observed during his travels to Japan and West Africa. ART Lab Africa – the best Kenya art gallery in Nairobi city represents him.

3. James Muriuki

James Muriuki
Art of Kenya by James Muriuki.

Image Credit – civitella

James Muriuki is a Nairobi-based artist who was born in 1977 and uses lens-based media in his work. His work has been exhibited in Nairobi and around the world. He has received grants, worked with artists in Kenya, attended residencies abroad, and more.

James Muriuki
At the Site I by James Muriuki. Photorag paper on dibond.

Image Credit – artlabafrica

His work focuses on how society and urban areas are changing, whether in Nairobi or in other places he visits on his trips. His art focuses on social, economic, and cultural changes. He questions his viewers with metaphorical elements. He works with photos, video, sound, and more. ART Lab Africa – one of the best places to visit in Nairobi represents him and his current residency is at the Delfina Foundation in London.

4. Paul Onditi

Paul Onditi
One of the best Nairobi-based painters and artists in Kenya is Paul Onditi.

Image Credit – whitehotmagazine

Paul Onditi was born in Kenya in 1980 and moved to Germany in 2000. He is presently living and making art in Nairobi. His paintings focus on modern global issues like climate change, loss of resources, etc. through the use of film strips, prints, acid, oil paints, etc. in an amazing way. He explores a world where political and religious conflict has haunted us since the dawn of time.

Paul Onditi
Regardless Negative by Paul Onditi. Mixed media on digital polyester inkjet plate.

Image Credit – artlabafrica

He has taken part in many group shows in Kenya and Europe and has had many solo shows in Kenya and Germany. His work devoted to Modern East African art has been auctioned in Nairobi in 2013. He was selected for VOLTA, New York with a solo show in March 2016. ART Lab Africa represents him.

5. Peterson Kamwathi

Peterson Kamwathi
Born in 1980 in Nairobi, Peterson Kamwathi is part of a generation of young East African artists.

Image Credit – theartspace

Peterson Kamwathi is a young East African artist who was born in Nairobi in 1980. His works explore African culture and modern global issues. His unique conceptual figures are abstract and grab the viewer’s attention with their physical presence, made with thick layers of pastel, charcoal, stencils, and more.

Peterson Kamwathi
Constellations and Sediments IV by Peterson Kamwathi. Spray paint, stencil, charcoal, and colored pencil on paper.

Image Credit – artlabafrica

He is known globally for his Sitting Allowance series, created in response to political and social violence in Kenya from 2007 to 2008. His work has been exhibited around the world, from Kenya, the UK, and Holland to USA, Austria, and Finland. Presently, he is working on a sculpture as part of the public project by Garden City Mall in Nairobi, the first of its kind in Kenya. He is one of the top artists in Kenya represented by ART Lab Africa.

6. Beatrice Wanjiku

Beatrice Wanjiku
Beatrice Wanjiku is a Kenyan visual and abstract artist, who practices independently in Nairobi.

Beatrice Wanjiku is one of the best artists in Kenya and was born in Nairobi in 1978. She is a graduate of Nairobi’s Buru Buru Institute of Fine Arts – one of the best art schools in Kenya. Her conceptual works of abstract figures bring out the mental issues of humans due to social norms. She explores the shift in human nature, self-awareness, and our ability to transform.

Beatrice Wanjiku
Unsettled, Mostaff Muchawaya by Beatrice Wanjiku.

Image Credit – duendeartprojects

Her recent exhibitions were the OSTRALE (2015), Dresden Germany (2015), and Richard Taittinger Gallery, New York, (2015). She received the UNESCO Aschberg Bursary in 2013, Robert Sterling Clarke Foundation Fellowship in 2011, and more. Currently showing her work ‘Unsettled’ at Duende Art Projects in Belgium. ART Lab Africa represents her.

7. Yony Waite

Yony Waite
Yony Waite is one of the top artists in Kenya whose work defies the stereotypic view of Africa.

Image Credit – businessdailyafrica

One of the most well-known female Kenya artists, Yony Waite is known as the Grand Dame of Kenyan art. She founded the Gallery Watutu with Robin Anderson and the Wildebeest Workshops, and her paintings of the Athi Plains are her famous works.

female Kenya artists
Artist Yony Waite in her studio near Athi River/Lukenya.

Her art has found a home in colonial hotels in Nairobi like Norfolk and The Stanley. She is a versatile artist and her portfolio includes landscape and wildlife paintings and quilt work. Her art is on display at The Nairobi Gallery.

8. Wanuri Kahiu

Wanuri Kahiu
Kenyan director Wanuri Kahiu.

Image credit – Justin Bishop/Vanity Fair.

Wanuri Kahiu was born in 1980 and is a Kenyan film director, producer, and author. She currently lives in Nairobi and is one of the most exciting artists in Kenya.

Wanuri Kahiu told a Kenyan love story in 2018.  It was a romance between two young women. The 2018 movie Rafiki, which was based on Monica Arac de Nyeko’s 2007 short story “Jambula Tree,” became a global hit. It was banned in Kenya. She was disappointed not because of any criticism of her work but rather because of her strong belief in the right to express and explore.

She has dedicated her life to sharing stories of hope and joy through her own style, Afrobubblegum. It doesn’t only look at modern art, it also goes back in time and looks at joyful myths, traditions, and legends based on fiction.

9. Osborne Macharia

Osborne Macharia is a Photographer born in 1986 in Nairobi. His work is known as Afrofuturism which is an artistic repurpose of post-colonial Africa by joining historical elements with the culture and desires of African people. He reimagines a New Africa and conveys messages on equality, gender abuse, care for the elderly, and more.

Wakanda in Exclusive Black Panther Artwork
The 3 blind elders of Wakanda in Exclusive Black Panther Artwork.

Image Credit – Osborne Macharia

He is famous for his artworks for the movie Black Panther and the US TV series Queen Sugar. More of his well-known works are Kenyan Grannies and Kippiri Women. His art has been featured in Vogue, Marie Claire, BBC, and more. Being one of the top artists in Kenya, he received the Kenya Cannes Lion Award in 2015.

10. Cyrus Kabiru

Cyrus Kabiru

Image Credit – artbaseafrica

Cyrus Kabiru was born in Nairobi, where he currently lives and works. He is a self-taught artist who reuses trash to create vibrant futuristic artworks that address his fight for climate change. 

His beautiful sculptures, installations, and films are inspired by Kenya and other countries that he travels to. He is best known for his eyewear range, C – Stunners, and his self-portrait photos which capture him wearing his works. His work focuses on reimagined future and modern evolution.

Cyrus Kabiru exhibition
Cyrus Kabiru exhibition at Zeitz Mocaa Museum in Cape Town.

Image Credit – zeitzmocaa

He exhibited his works at Kuona Trust in Nairobi (2010), Lagos Photo Festival (Nigeria) in 2013, and more. He exhibited at the SMAC Gallery in Cape Town (2015), he was chosen as one of Quartz’s Africa Innovators (Nairobi) in 2016, and much more.

11. Syowia Kyambi

Syowia Kyambi
Syowia Kyambi is one of the top artists in Kenya who works in photography, video, drawing, sound, sculpture, and performance installation.

Image Credit – syowiakyambi

Multimedia artist Syowia Kyambi was born in Nairobi in 1979. Her work explores race, gender, and the history of colonial Kenya. She is inspired by traditional and modern life elements. Her art is an emotional response to her subjects and inspires similar reactions in her viewers. In her works, she combines outfits from modern life with traditional objects.

One of her notable works called Fracture took place at Limerick Gallery in Ireland in 2011. It was a story of a woman named Rose who moved to the city from rural Kenya. Art Lab Africa represents her.

12. Boniface Maina

Boniface Maina
Surrealism, Figurative Art by Boniface Maina.

Image Credit – widewalls

Boniface Maina, one of the most well-known artists in Kenya, was born in Nanyuki town in 1987, and currently lives and works in Nairobi. In 2008, he graduated with a diploma in art and design from the YMCA National Training Institute. He strives to capture conflicts in human behavior. He is inspired by human reactions and his daily life which he depicts with his figures.

Boniface Maina
Boniface Maina, Conversation about a Place (2020).

Image Credit – circleartagency

His works have been featured in art books, news articles, and more locally and globally. He is the founder of Brush Tu Art Studio and has exhibited his works within and outside Kenya. The Circle Art Gallery – the top art gallery Kenya represents him.

Stay at 2.5.4 Ole Sereni to Experience Artists in Kenya

Stay at 2.5.4 Ole Sereni

Discover the most exciting art scenes and artists in Kenya while staying at 2.5.4 Ole Sereni – an exquisite hotel near Wilson airport Nairobi. It is among the leading airport hotels in Nairobi for business and leisure travelers, events, conferences, and weddings. With stunning views of the Nairobi National Park and giraffes, zebras, etc. lounging near our waterhole in the front, come stay at this one-of-a-kind hotel.

Ultimate Luxury & Comfort

Ultimate Luxury & Comfort

Want to spend the holidays in Nairobi? Looking for hotels in Nairobi Kenya? With modern amenities and warm-colored interiors, 254 Ole Sereni hotel in Nairobi offers 148 spacious and exquisitely decorated rooms and Nairobi executive suites. The accommodation features incredible views of both Kenya’s natural heritage and vibrant urban streets.

The Art of Gourmet

The Art of Gourmet

Searching for the best Nairobi dinner places? The breathtaking views, combined with fresh seafood, aged steaks, specialty sandwiches, global cuisines, and drinks, make for a memorable experience. Celebrate a special occasion or just enjoy a fine meal or a glass of wine at one of the best Nairobi restaurants and bars. From Eagles’ Steakhouse, and the Big Five Restaurant to Ngong Pool Bar, and Waterhole Snack Bar, explore these unforgettable Ole Sereni restaurants.

Truly Unique Events

Truly Unique Events

Looking for wedding venues in Nairobi? Plan a business trip or a beautiful wedding with state-of-the-art facilities at 254 Ole Sereni hotel. It is conveniently located for travel to the airport and to Nairobi CBD. The hotel offers the latest tech and is fully equipped with LCD projectors, flat-screen TVs, photocopiers, fax, etc. There is a dedicated concierge and impeccable banqueting services as well as stunning gardens to make your event more enjoyable. 

Choose from 4 meeting rooms – Solo, Jones, Lulu, and Dickens that can hold up to 13 people each or boardrooms – Twiga, Kifaru, and Kiboko.

Rejuvenate your Mind, Body & Soul

Rejuvenate your Mind, Body & Soul

Unwind by the pool, during a massage, manicure, or hair styling session, or by working out at one of the best gyms in Nairobi. The Ole Sereni spa is a one-of-a-kind experience. Want to enjoy heated pools in Nairobi? Stay in shape at the Health Club or look your best at the salon or lounge at the pool. The friendly staff makes your stay with 254 Ole Sereni as rejuvenating as possible.

Bespoke Adventures

Bespoke Adventures
Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi.

Image Credit – maasaimarakenyapark

Thriving Nairobi Art Scene & Artists in Kenya

For a long time, the cultural spotlight in Africa was focused on the west or south of the continent rather than East Africa. And yet Kenya, this large, ancient and multi-cultural region is brimming with unique histories, peoples, and stories. Nairobi, the capital of Kenya has become a creative hub and the focal point of much of this country’s cultural vibrancy. So checking out the art scene is one of the best things to do in Nairobi! 

Ready for a staycation in Nairobi? Are you finding the best hotel in Nairobi? Looking for 254 Ole Sereni hotel contacts? Contact Us for Special Offers at one of the top 5 star hotels in Nairobi to make the most of the art scene and artists in Kenya.

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