Samuel Wanjau (Kenyan, 1938-2013)
Signed ‘S.WANJAU’(underneath the base)
88 x 29 x 29cm
Provenance: private collection
Wanjau is undoubtedly one of Kenya’s most revered and influential sculptors. Born in Nyeri on the family farm, he left school to join a carvers’ cooperative in Mombasa and later in Nairobi. When independence came he started producing curios for the tourist market. On meeting Elimo Njau of Paa Ya Paa (Arts Centre), he began to explore new styles and techniques away from the tourist market he had been catering for and developed a highly personal style that conveyed powerful emotion in the everyday figures and animals he carved. Wanjau exhibited widely in East Africa and internationally including in Sweden, Britain, Canada, the U.S. and Italy.
His influence on the second generation of sculptors, which includes both his sons, Jackson and Anthony, has been profound. His work and career is emblematic of a time when artists were breaking away from the mass production of co-operatives and finding thier individual voices.