Peterson Kamwathi is part of a generation of young East African artists whose break with the colonial tutelage that for decades defined the region’s art has afforded the exploration of topics both deeply rooted in Africa’s cultural background and engaged with global contemporary issues. Kamwathi’s works, whose highly codified and symbolic concepts go far beyond local relevance, distance themselves from the usual patterns of reception of figurative art from Kenya. Rendered in thick layers of charcoal, pastel, watercolor, stencil and more recently collage, Kamwathi’s depictions of amorphous and motionless figures haunt the foreground against abyssal backgrounds devoid of vanishing points.
Building on his interest in processions and groupings within contemporary ceremonies, masquerades, and political protocol, his recent works explore hidden convergences in the gestures and performing of religious rituals and his increasingly fascination with the structure and anatomy of prayer. Kamwathi has exhibited in Austria, El Salvador, Finland, Holland, Kenya, the UK, and the US.