Lawrence “Shabu” Mwangi (Kenyan, born 1985)
Title unknown, 2016
Signed ‘shabu mwangi 09/2016’ (lower left)
Oil on canvas
90.5 x 83 cm
Ksh 400,000 – 600,000
(US$) 3,500 – 5,200
Provenance: private collection
Sold Ksh 469,600
Mwangi has been a practicing artist since 2003. His practice focuses on the effects of structural and historical violence, and different forms of marginalization on the individual and collective psyche. Shabu’s paintings are considerations of societal and cultural fissures. His most recent work traces an ongoing personal journey of striving to understand the balance between the two things that drive us, love and pain, and how we react in different ways depending on which of the two is dominant. Shabu’s work has previously dealt with questions of collective suffering, and the effects that inequality, marginalization, and other forms of structural violence have on communities. In this new body of work, he has turned his gaze inwards, focusing on an examination of the self. He asks himself questions about how he sees the people around him and his interactions with them.
Mwangi has participated in workshops and residency programs both locally and internationally. His work has mmost recently featured in Systems of Emptiness, a prelude to Documenta15, a group show with Wajukuu and The Sources of Our Seas, a solo show at Circle Art Gallery in 2021; East African Encounters, a Circle Art Gallery group exhibition at Cromwell Place in London in 2021, and Self Adressed, an exhibition of self-portraiture by artists from Africa and its diaspora curated by Kehinde Wiley for Deitch Projects LA. Other shows include: The Man with Two Shadows (2020), an online exhibition with Circle Art Gallery; Yawning for Power, 2019, a solo exhibition with Tilleard Projects; The Stateless, solo exhibition at Circle Art Gallery (2018); Freedom, Flight, Refuge, Circle Art Gallery 2017; Art Transposition Nairobi-Kampala-Hamburg, LKB Gallery, Hamburg; Pop-Up Africa, GAFRA, London (2017); Out of the Slum (2012), Essen, Germany; He has also participated in residencies in Kenya, Germany, and Italy. In 2022, Mwangi and fellow members of the Wajukuu Art Project participated in Documenta 15 in Kassel, Germany this year and he is participating the Mercosul Biennale in Brazil currently.