Paul Onditi (Kenyan, born 1980)
Untitled (early ‘Smokey’ series), circa 2012
Signed ‘Wudg 12’ (lower right)
Mixed media on hessian cloth
135 .5 x 87 cm
Ksh 440,000 – 550,000 ARR
(US$) 4,250 – 5,350
Provenance: Private collection of Tony Wainaina

Paul Onditi moved to Germany in 2000, where he studied art at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach am Main. In 2010 he returned to Nairobi, where he currently lives and works.

Onditi is part of a generation of young African artists working on the continent whose engagement with contemporary practice has rapidly gaining international attention. His painting is highly experimental and labour-intensive, relying on the use of layered images, to probe contemporary global issues. He patches together filmstrips, prints, transferred images, pared down layers of pigment, caustic acid and thin layers of oil paint are in meticulous ways to visualise an imaginative world. His compositions blur an ever-present isolated and enigmatic figure into disparate, exploratory backgrounds that blend graphic, abstract elements with imagery drawn from nature. Constantly evolving in his practice, he highlights global issues connecting us all: pollution, climate change, natural unrest and loss of resources.

Onditi has participated in many group shows in Kenya and Europe and has had several solo shows in Kenya and Germany. His work was included in Bonham’s Africa Now auction in London in 2013 and 2014. He has also taken part in Ernst and Young Action in the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany. He participated in the Dakar Biennale in 2018.
This is an early and rare work on hessian, rather than the synthetic polyester plates for which he is better known.