Art Auction East Africa 2022 Lot 56 Richard Onyango

Richard Onyango (Kenyan, born 1960)
Likoni Ferry, 2009 reworked in 2022
Signed ‘Richard 2009 Malindi Kenya (BORN AGAIN) REPAINT 2022
oil on canvas
118 x 159 cm
Ksh 440,000 – 600,000
(US$) 3,850 – 5,250
Provenance: from the artist’s collection
Sold Ksh 528,300

Living and working in Malindi, Richard Onyango is one of Kenya’s most well-known artists with an extensive international following. He began his career by supporting himself through a number of occupations including carpenter, fashion designer, woodcarver, sign painter, farmer and musician. His life changed at the age of 20 when he was working as a drummer in a band and first met his British lover Drosie, who took him under her wing. He began his art career painting pictures of his memories of her and their relationship. Obsessed with old vehicles, Land Rovers, public buses and lorries, boats and planes, this painting from 2009, has been re-worked by the artist this year and depicts his memory of the ferry (which plies its trade from Mombasa Island to the South Coast) from 1970s. As a child, he used to have to take the ferry to and from school. He has painted it from memory from that era because when the Mombasa Gate bridge is complete, the ferry may no longer continue.

Onyango was included in the Africa Remix exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London; the Museum of Fine Art in Houston, USA in 2005; and at the Venice Biennale in 2003. He is represented in the Contemporary African Art Collection (CAAC), Geneva, Switzerland, which was founded by Jean Pigozzi. It is the largest private collection of its kind and includes several of his major works. He has now retired.