Circle Art Auction 2015 Lot 15 Edward Njenga

Edward Njenga (Kenyan, born 1922)
Chupa Na Debe, 1970
Signed ‘Edward Njenga’ (to base)
46 x 20 x 18 cm

Ksh 450,000-500,000
(US$ 4,090-4,545)
Sold Ksh 469,600

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. Chupa Na Debe depicts a street buyer who makes a living by buying used tins and bottles, which are then sold to wholesalers. Such buyers sing beautiful songs attracting children who fetch the tins from their houses.

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.