Photo Credit: Talitha Puri Negri
Wanjiku received her diploma from Nairobi's Buruburu Institute of Fine Arts in 2000 and is now at the forefront of the Kenyan contemporary art scene.
She explores and interrogates the shifting nature of being human; existentialism; consciousness and self-awareness; resistance to societally imposed behavioural controls and ultimately our inherent ability to transform ourselves. Her works are an insight into the eternal quest to understand our own realities.
To date, her studies can be categorised into four distinct series:
The Mortality Series where she explores questions of mortality, immortality and identity arising in the experience of a profound loss.
In her second series, X-Ray imaging is introduced as if attempting to peer through to the heart and soul of the subject. Here, recurring themes through much of the later work suggest both frustration and an urgency to chip away at the carapace of the facade and to touch the tenderness of some internal reality, resolving sometimes into an easement of acceptance and understanding.
The third series bears the influences of her three-month residency in Vermont, USA., the 'Occupy' Movement having entrenched itself in Wall Street at the time. Layered into the canvases are collages of newspaper clippings and icons of Americana.
The last phase continues the search for the soul. With weeping teeth, internal conflict and titles such as 'The Strangeness of My Madness', it admits to being an introspection of an altogether more personal nature. A Mad Tempest III belongs to this series: she says “the work interrogates encounters within our individual states; it offers an insight into our internal quest to understand our realities by exploring the duality of our state of being and the natural intrinsic state of fulfilment and happiness.”.
She has exhibited in Open Borders at the Venice Biennale in 2015 and Pop-Up Africa at GAFRA in London in 2014. Her work is held in the Sina Jina Collection owned by Robert Devereaux and the collection of the World Bank in Washington DC. She was listed among the ten top 'artists to watch out for' at the 1:54 Art Fair in New York.
She lives and works in Nairobi.