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Mwili, Akili Na Roho / Body, Mind, and Spirit

Ten Figurative Painters from East Africa

Published by David Zwirner Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

This catalogue showcases a multigenerational group of African artists varied in their backgrounds, thematic concerns, and formal strategies and offers a starting point for critical engagement with the history of painting in East Africa.

Mwili, Akili Na Roho: Ten Figurative Painters from East Africa features the work of ten artists from Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, including Sam Ntiro, Elimo Njau, Asaph Ng’ethe Macua, Jak Katarikawe, Theresa Musoke, Sane Wadu, Peter Mulindwa, Chelenge van Rampelberg, John Njenga, and Meek Gichugu. The personal histories, thematic concerns, and formal strategies of this multigenerational group of artists present an opportunity to engage more deeply in the genealogies of artistic creation in the region, while considering the enduring influence of certain ideas and institutions in the creation, dissemination, and reception of art in and from East Africa.

This catalogue is published to coincide with an expanded version of Mwili, Akili Na Roho at the Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute in 2022, following earlier iterations at Haus Der Kunst in Munich (2020) and the Royal Academy of Arts in London (2021).

About NCAI
Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute (NCAI) is a nonprofit visual-arts space dedicated to the growth and preservation of contemporary art in East Africa. Established in 2020, NCAI builds on a rich legacy of art projects and institutions in the region, and seeks to tell the stories of the artists and projects that have come to shape the region’s contemporary art scene. Through exhibitions, the development of an East African art archive, an extensive public program of talks, and a multidisciplinary educational program, NCAI serves as an inspiring cultural space and a resource for the thriving East African arts community.

About The Authors

Don Handa is curator at Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute. 

Lutivini Majanja is a writer from Kenya. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s, New Orleans Review, Jalada, The Elephant, Popula, Norient, The Takeout, Down River Road, Adi Magazine, and Obsidian, among others. Her short story ‘An Inheritance’ was selected for Best Microfiction. Her writing has also been featured in the Nipe Story podcast. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland.

George Kyeyune is an artist and professor. Kyeyune was appointed Dean of the School of Industrial and Fine Arts (2006–2010) and from 2010 has maintained the position of Director of the Institute of Heritage Conservation and Restoration, Makerere University. Kyeyune was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship at Emory University, Atlanta in 2013 and a Commonwealth Fellowship at SOAS in 2014. Kyeyune’s interests are in contemporary art in Uganda, where he has been published extensively.

Asaph Ng’ethe Macua (b. 1930, Karura, Kenya) attended Makerere University, Kampala, in 1951. After graduating, Macua worked in the Department of Community Development in Kampala before returning to Kenya in 1958. From 1960, he worked as chief artist in the East African Common Services Organisation which later became the Kenya Literature Bureau, until his retirement in 1967. Selected solo and group exhibitions include those at Makerere University, Kampala; Uganda Museum, Kampala; Chemichemi, Nairobi (1964); Mankind and Nature, Goethe-Institut, Nairobi (1992); Alliance Franc¸aise, Nairobi (1993); and a retrospective at the National Museum in Nairobi (2019). He published his autobiography From Misery to Joy: A Journey of Endurance in 2019.

Product Details

  • Publisher: David Zwirner Books (April 18, 2023)
  • Length: 84 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781644231074

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