Beatrice Wanjiku‘s paintings are some of the few I’ve posted up from Africa and the first from Kenya. Like the few contemporary African artists I’ve come across Wanjjiku’s compositions have a vitality, a richness of colour, an emotional quality and strong narrative, her playful use of multiple layers, texture and typography, encouraging us to look beyond the surface, to find the stories that lie hidden beneath her abstractions.
There is something inherently graphic about her paintings, a clean, controlled aesthetic that works well with her loose brushstrokes, bold colours and heavily textured paint. Here’s what she has to say about her work:
The paintings challenge one to look beyond the surface through the exposure of their hidden stories. Using a process of simultaneous multiplicities the images play with the processes of revealing and concealing. Through the use of layering and texture in the paintings each fresh thought and new ideas grows off the previous both literally and metaphorically. The use of typography has been key texts lifted from magazines novels and newspapers with their self reflective prose to explore ideas such as vanity humanity adaptation memories and transitions.
The contrast between abstraction, text, montage and layering and the image of the face on several of my paintings is to explore the notion of the self through the perception of the other. The face as the final layer gives something recognizable to the viewer, a point of clear identification rooting the play of words and ideas in the physical human form and our most immediate expression of the self, the face.