Edward Njenga (Kenyan, born 1922)
No Vacancy, 1970
Signed ‘E. S. Njenga’ (on base)
31.5 x 38 x 44 cm
Provenance: direct from the artist
Born over 90 years ago, much of Edward Njenga’s work dates from the decades following independence and displays an instinctive social realism. His practice is grounded locally in his use of clay and populist subject matter. Many of Njenga’s works honour his mother, who earned a living by selling her pottery, which paid for his school fees. Each of Njenga’s sculptures is unique and serves as a visual memoir of everyday life in Nairobi and the neighborhood of Eastleigh, where he was a social worker for many years.
Njenga’s intimate sculptures of local characters come alive as he describes their stories. No Vacancy, made in 1970, recalls the period of high unemployment in Kenya when desperate people would flock to factories and companies in the hopes of finding work.
One of Kenya’s most revered sculptors, Njenga’s collections are a prized component of Kenya’s cultural heritage. In 2014, there was a major retrospective exhibition of over 200 of the artist’s sculptures at the Nairobi National Museum.
Works from Njenga rarely come on the market.