Lawrence “Shabu” Mwangi (Kenyan, born 1985)
Bedsitter I, 2016
Signed ‘shabu mwangi 10/2016’ (lower right)
Oil on canvas
107 x 76.5 cm
US$ 2,500 – 4,500
Provenance: private collection
Sold US$ 4,461

Mwangi has been a practising artist since 2003. His practice focuses on the effects of structural and historical violence, and different forms of marginalisation 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, marginalisation, 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 was most 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 Addressed, 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, and this year he is participating in the Mercosul Biennale in Brazil.