Born in 1980 in Nairobi, Peterson Kamwathi is part of a generation of young East African artists whose break with the colonial tutelage that for decades defined the region’s art has afforded the exploration of topics both deeply rooted in Africa’s cultural background and engaged with global contemporary issues.
Peterson’s highly codified, symbolic, conceptual works, whose content and concepts go far beyond local relevance, distance themselves from the usual patterns of reception of figurative art from Kenya. Rendered in thick layers of charcoal, pastel, watercolor, stencils and more recently collage, Peterson’s figures are anonymous, static, almost abstract, a physical presence powerfully pushed to the forefront of the picture plane and the viewer’s attention by dense backgrounds devoid of vanishing points.
His practice, fostering the idea of art as a process-based and time-based project, often creates encapsulated visual archives by exploring contemporary themes in series and in layers, each group of works exploring social, political, personal and institutional structures symbolized through the depiction of the human figure. Each work is part of a series, thematically intertwined whilst individually delving deeper into the concept that informs the group.
gallery website: http://www.artlabafrica.com/#!peterson-kamwathi/cq3k