Courtesy of artist


Kimathi Donkor reimagines mythic, historical and everyday encounters across Africa and its global diasporas, addressing the erasure of Black subjectivity and Black historical figures from western canonical art history. Working primarily in painting and drawing, Donkor’s practice draws from his involvement in community initiatives in Brixton during its uprising against police brutality in the 1980s, an experience that empowered him to appropriate figurative art in order to decolonise and undermine its underlying ideology. Through extensive research into both African diasporic and European art history, the artist subverts traditional oil portraiture while borrowing compositional elements from it, creating a powerful dynamic linking the contemporary with the past.

Donkor’s solo exhibitions include Play, Rest, Work, University College London Hospital (2022); Notebooks, Brixton Library, London (2021); Idylls, DKUK, London (2021); Some Clarity of Vision, Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg (2015); Daddy, I Want To Be A Black Artist, Peckham Platform (2013); and Fall/Uprising, Bettie Morton Gallery, London (2005). His work will be presented as a solo presentation at Independent, New York later in May 2023.

He has also participated in several group exhibitions, including The New African Portraiture: Shariat Collections, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria (2022); Yanga: Path to Freedom in the Americas, African American Museum of Dallas (2022); War Inna Babylon, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2021); UNTITLED: Art on the conditions of our time New Art Exchange, Nottingham and Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, Diaspora Pavilion, 57th Venice Biennale (2017); and 29th São Paulo Biennial (2010). His work will be included in The Time Is Always Now: Artists Reframe the Black Figure at the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2024.

His awards and grants include the De’Longhi Art Project Artist Award, London Art Fair (2019) and the Derek Hill Painting Scholarship for The British School, Rome (2011). Donkor was an artist-in-residence at The World Reimagined (2022); Gallery Momo, Johannesburg (2015); and Gate Theatre, Notting Hill, London (2015).

His works can be found in numerous collections, including at The British Museum; The Wolverhampton Art Gallery, the UK; International Slavery Museum, England; and Sharjah Art Foundation.

Born in 1965 in Bournemouth, England, Donkor lives and works in London, where he is the Reader in Contemporary Painting and Black Art at the University of the Arts.

SAF participation:
Sharjah Biennial 15 (2023)

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