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Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento California

Conversation on the Collection - Wangari Mathenge

- Thu Jul 11 2024

Conversation on the Collection - Wangari Mathenge. The Crocker Art Museum is the oldest art museum in the Western United States, located in Sacramento, California. Founded in 1885, the museum holds one of the premier collections of Californian art. The collection includes American works dating from the Gold Rush to the present, European paintings and master drawings, one of the largest international ceramics collections in the U.S., and collections of Asian, African, and Oceanic art. The Crocker Art Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

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Kunstmuseum Basel

When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting

Tandazani Dhlakama, Koyo Kouoh

- Sat May 25 2024

How have artists from the African continent and its diaspora experienced and artistically processed everyday life over the last 100 years? To answer this question, the team led by Koyo Kouoh, Director and Chief Curator of the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, South Africa, undertook intensive research. The result is a comprehensive show that brings together works by 156 artists: a kaleidoscope dedicated to African figurative painting of the last 100 years. The museum has thus succeeded in creating a ground-breaking exhibition that demands to be seen - and which will find its way to the Kunstmuseum Basel in 2024.

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The Green Gallery

Moreover: 50 Paintings, pt 3

Michelle Grabner

- Fri May 17 2024

Moreover: 50 Paintings is the sister exhibition to the Milwaukee Art Museum’s,  Paintings, contemporaneous exhibitions that together feature the work of one hundred artists. Organized as a ‘survey,’ Moreover also celebrates contemporary painting’s pluralistic leanings while furthering comparative analysis in the visual language.

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BBC World Service

In The Studio

Anna Bailey

- Tue Apr 30 2024

For this In The Studio, arts journalist Anna Bailey follows Wangari as she creates her second immersive experience at the Pippy Houldsworth Gallery. It’s a life-sized replica of her Nairobi studio and this is where she invited 20 female domestic workers to have a day of rest, while also painting large-scale portraits of them for a new series of work which celebrates female domestic workers in Kenya.

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The Dallas Morning News

When You See Me: Visibility in Contemporary Art/History

- Sun Apr 07 2024

Explore the complexities of visibility in our latest exhibition, When You See Me: Visibility in Contemporary Art/History. The exhibition aims to broaden and complicate official histories and their corresponding visual strategies to allow for richer representations of those who have been traditionally excluded or erased. 

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i-D Magazine

Wangari Mathenge's Paintings Reframe Kenya's Domestic Workers

- Fri Jan 05 2024

In a painting from the series A Day of Rest, the London and Chicago based painter Wangari Mathenge depicts three women sitting by the fireplace in her studio in Kenya. Subtitled Kemunto, Mary and Sarah (2023), a short-haired lady in a green dress places her hand on one of her friend’s foreheads as they stare back at her, resting their hand on her shoulder. The third woman gazes into the distance while the pair interact. While it is unclear exactly what is happening in the piece, Wangari paints the details of their braids and afro-textured hair, their nonchalant facial expressions and the colours of their clothes, with a carefulness, warmth and precision. 


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The Glossary

Black History Month 2023: 12 Important Events Happening Across London

Luciana Bellini

- Mon Sep 04 2023

A Day of Rest is Wangari Mathenge’s second solo exhibition in London and is made up of paintings and a room-size installation from her new series, which was inspired by the plight of domestic workers in Kenya. To create the pieces, Mathenge invited 20 female domestic workers to her studio and in the resulting portraits, each woman poses with an object of personal importance, as a way of taking control of their own stories

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Elephant Magazine #47

Wangari Mathenge - ISSN NUMBER 1879-3835

Alejandro Oliva

- Fri Aug 25 2023

Elephant features an in-depth article on painter Wangari Mathenge. "For Mathenge, the authenticity of her subjects, the interiors they populate, is more about making a mark in the historical record: this is what it looks like to be a Black Kenyan woman, or a Black Kenyan family, living in a home in Chicago or London or Kenya.”

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Art & Cake Magazine

Wangari Mathenge at Roberts Projects

Eve Wood

- Sat May 20 2023

The Tidal Wave of Colours and the eight luminous paintings that comprise her first major solo exhibition in the United States at Roberts Projects represent both an actualization of her desire to become an artist and a means by which she synthesizes and reinterprets artworks that have inspired her creative process.

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Cultured Magazine

Wangari Mathenge Was a Lawyer. Now, She’s Making Her U.S. Solo Debut at Roberts Projects.

Melissa Smith

- Fri Apr 21 2023

The painter left a lucrative career as an attorney to become an artist. Four years later, ahead of the opening “Tidal Wave of Colour,” she has no regrets

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Juxtapoz Magazine

Wangari Mathenge and a Tidal Wave of Colour

Jewels Dodson

- Wed Apr 19 2023

Tidal Wave of Colour is an ode to the art and the artists that served as an inspiration to Mathenge in her development as an artist, from individual ideas to larger movements. It is as a student learning an all-encompassing encyclopedia of works, viewed through the lens of race, class, and geography, that she connected with art in a way that was deeper, and more realized.

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Thames & Hudson

When We See Us, A Century of Black Figuration in Painting

Koyo Kouoh

- Tue Mar 28 2023

Published to accompany a major exhibition at Zeitz MOCAA, CapeTown, When We See Us presents a comprehensive exploration of Black representation through portraiture and figuration, celebrating Black subjectivity and Black consciousness from Pan-African and Pan-Diasporic perspectives. In the past decade, figurative painting by Black artists has risen to a new prominence in the field of contemporary art. This timely and revelatory book highlights the many ways in which artists critically engage with notions of blackness, contributing to the critical discourse on topics such as Pan-Africanism, the Civil Rights Movement, African Liberation and Independence movements, the Anti-Apartheid and Black Consciousness mobilizations, Decoloniality, and Black Lives Matter.

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Financial Times

Art's Nude Awakening

Victoria Woodcock

- Wed Jan 25 2023

She also points to a painting by Wangari Mathenge, a self-portrait of the Chicago-based Kenyan artist, scantily clad and lounging on a sofa, her gaze a challenge to the viewer. “It’s full of assertion,” says Kouoh. “And I love it. It’s extremely empowering.” The exhibition is sponsored by Gucci, which is helping to take the discussion to a broader audience via its social channels, bringing these paintings about representation and identity back into the online spaces that often influence them. 


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Pippy Houldsworth Gallery-Art Basel

After Eight

- Thu Dec 15 2022

While Wangari Mathenge fills her paintings with relatable figures, her colorful canvases exceed the individuating focus of portraiture: they depict people as wholly integral to their settings. In After Eight (There Is A Moment, Fleeting, When One Returns To Self And Feels, As if For The First Time, Alive) (2022), a lived-in corporeality is apparent in the lushly tactile oils that make up a quietly charged scene of a couple reclining in bed.

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A Century of Black Figuration Across Black, African, and Intra-African Art Histories

Emmanuel Balogun

- Wed Nov 30 2022

When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting at Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town (20 November 2022–3 September 2023) sutures a globally diversified legion of Black, African, and African diaspora artists through an age-old measure: time. The exhibition's curators, Koyo Kouoh and Tandazani Dhlakama have gathered works by 154 artists, loaned from over 70 locations, to create a historical continuum of geographically diffused artistic movements and painterly traditions that articulate the many iterations of Black life.

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When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting


- Sun Nov 20 2022

When We See Us: A Century of Black Figuration in Painting comprises an exhibition, publication and discursive programming that explores Black self-representation and celebrates global Black subjectivities and Black consciousness from pan-African and pan-diasporic perspectives. It boldly brings together artworks from the last 100 years, by Black artists working globally, into dialogue with leading Black thinkers, writers and poets who are active today. 

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The Art Newspaper

Five Shows to See During UK Black History Month

Chinma Johnson Nwosu

- Sat Nov 19 2022

The Kenyan-born artist Wangari Mathenge returns to London with her second solo show in the city. On display are the artist's paintings and installation from her latest series, A Day of Rest, which explores the plight of domestic workers in Kenya—often women who through the country's precarious labour laws are left unprotected from mistreatment and abuse. The paintings are portraits of actual Kenyan women who Mathenge invited to relax and tell stories in her studio last year. “Mathenge joined them in varied discussions that included subjects such as spirituality, finances, education, feminism, and the need for rest and reflection,” a gallery statement says.

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The Artsy Vanguard 2022

Jewels Dodson

- Tue Nov 15 2022

After The Break (2022), a painting by artist Wangari Mathenge, takes us inside a home, where a person appears before an upholstered chair and ottoman covered in a tropical leaf pattern. The space is accented by actual flora—raspberry tiger lilies and kelly green lemongrass—along with a teacup and a clementine. The subject, most likely a woman, is stretched over the ottoman, legs and head not pictured, but presumed to be dangling. The body language hits a familiar nerve; they’re either in distress or taking respite amid struggle.

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Financial Times

Where The Art Feels Like Home

Aimee Farrell

- Mon Nov 14 2022

A trip back to her childhood home in Hampstead Garden Suburb in 2016 inspired some thrilling new work. She recreated her Hampstead sitting room in forensic detail. Carefully piecing together photographs, memories, and conversations, this time-capsule interior was about as true to the original as it’s possible to be – from the doilies that cover the chairs to the Jungle Book viewfinder on the side table, and her parents’ ABBA and Cliff Richard records. 

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Ilex Press

African Art Now ( Book)

Osei Bonsu

- Tue Oct 18 2022

Over the past two decades contemporary African art has taken its rightful place on the world stage. Today, African artists work outside the confines of limiting categories and outdated perceptions; they produce art that is as much a reflection of Africa’s tumultuous past as it is a vision of its boundless future.

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Phaidon Press Limited

Great Women Painters (Book)

Alison M. Gingeras

- Thu Oct 06 2022

Great Women Painters is a groundbreaking book that reveals a richer and more varied telling of the story of painting. Featuring more than 300 artists from around the world, it includes both well-known women painters from history and today's most exciting rising stars.

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Vogue Italia

Wangari Mathenge in Mostra a Milano

- Fri Sep 30 2022

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Monica De Cardenas


Monica De Cardenas

- Thu Sep 22 2022

Perspectives, the first solo show by Wangari Mathenge in Italy. The artist creates powerful large-scale paintings confronting issues regarding the visibility of the black female in the context of both the traditional African patriarchal society and the Diaspora.

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Nasher Museum at Duke University

The Power of Portraiture

- Mon May 23 2022

Relocation, acculturation, displacement, and specifically how these concepts relate to the diasporic African experience are central to the work of Kenyan-born, Chicago-based artist Wangari Mathenge. In her series "The Ascendants", Mathenge is less interested in capturing individual likenesses and instead attempts to render the complexity of identity and aspects of life for Africans living abroad in large interior scenes.


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Faith For Justice

Christmas Week 2

- Sat Dec 25 2021


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The Black Portraits - Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA & Spellman College GA

Oh To Wander (Wonder What She’ll See When She Sees)

- Sun Nov 07 2021

Featuring Wangari Mathenge, Otis Kwame Kye Quiacoe, Betye Saar and Kehinde Wiley. To complement the presentation of The Obama Portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald on tour from the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery (NPG), LACMA presents Black American Portraits. Remembering Two Centuries of Black American Art, guest curated by David Driskell at LACMA 45 years ago, this exhibition reframes portraiture to center Black American subjects, sitters, and spaces.

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Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

Stretching The Body Featuring Wangari Mathenge

- Fri Nov 05 2021

The Stretching the Body group exhibition brings together a group of thirteen women artists from different generations and geographical origins, who through the medium of painting reflect on the genre of portraiture and the theme of the human figure.

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Financial Times

The Ascendants: A Short Story

Ayobami Adebayo

- Fri Oct 29 2021

After The Break (2022), a painting by artist Wangari Mathenge takes us inside a home, where a person appears before an upholstered chair and ottoman covered in a tropical leaf pattern. The space is accented by actual flora—raspberry tiger lilies and kelly green lemongrass—along with a teacup and a clementine. The subject, most likely a woman, is stretched over the ottoman, legs and head not pictured, but presumed to be dangling. The body language hits a familiar nerve; they’re either in distress or taking respite amid struggle.

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Pippy Houldsworth Gallery

You Are Here

- Tue Oct 12 2021

Pippy Houldsworth Gallery presents You Are Here, the first UK solo exhibition of US-based Kenyan artist Wangari Mathenge. The exhibition draws on early memories and personal observations to address the diasporic experience of home and establishing oneself at a distance from one’s cultural origin. You Are Here also includes the artist’s first large-scale installation. This work, incorporating Mathenge’s first stop-motion animation, will invite the viewer to step into the space of her paintings.

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House and Garden

The Art Exhibitions Not to Miss this Autumn

Christabel Chubb

- Mon Oct 11 2021

The first major UK solo exhibition from the US-based Kenyan artist Wangari Mathenge will illustrate her personal experience of relocation, responding to questions of race and acculturation. In a series of large paintings titled The Ascendants (including XIII above), she depicts figures in domestic situations demonstrating the juxtaposition of relocation, along with everyday objects that serve as cultural reminders of one’s heritage. Accompanying this series will be an installation of a living space from the Seventies, which is reminiscent of the years the artist spent in London, with a vintage television playing a stop-motion animation.

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The Sunday Times Style

Six Hot Artists To Namedrop

Claire Wrathall

- Sun Oct 10 2021

Wangari Mathenge was 31 and working as a lawyer in Massachusetts when she began to take art classes. “I was always good at art,” she says. “And I thought I’d go to art school, but my parents had other ideas.” So she studied business instead, and then law, leaving Nairobi for Washington

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Apollo Magazine

Sickert’s Portraits and Hampstead Garden Suburb in the 1970s

Sophie Barling

- Thu Oct 07 2021

Like Sickert, the Chicago-based Kenyan artist Wangari Mathenge knows something about interiors and interior lives; unlike Sickert’s women, however, those in Mathenge’s explosively colourful domestic settings – replete with Kanga textiles and other signifiers of their subjects’ East African heritage – have agency, either contemplating themselves and their own thoughts or observing us, the viewer, with magnificent hauteur.

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United Nations

Wangari Mathenge: UN Women "A Force for Change"

- Tue Jul 13 2021

UN Women, the agency of the United Nations dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment, will host the first all-Black, all-women global selling exhibition and auction titled “A Force for Change”, with proceeds benefiting Black women across the world and the participating artists. The exhibition includes 26 works by prominent and emerging female artists of African descent to recognize and elevate awareness of the transformative power of Black women’s art in social justice movements, and to support UN Women’s nascent global Black Women’s Programme. Works by artists Cinthia Sifa Mulanga, Tschabalala Self, Sungi Mlengeya, Wangari Mathenge, Zanele Muholi, and Selly Rabe Kane are included, among many others.

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New York Times Style Magazine

How Friendship Helps Us Transcend Ourselves

Megan O’Grady

- Mon Apr 12 2021

“The Ascendants XI (Homage to Ecclesiastes Three, One Through Eight)” (2021), made exclusively for T by the Chicago-based artist Wangari Mathenge, who said: “As part of the diaspora, I’m interested in what can ease the sense of displacement. The figures here might long to step out into a different kind of world, but for now they sit in comfortable silence in a shared space they’ve created for themselves

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Financial Times

Rooms of Our Own — Art and The Inner Lives of Women

Enuma Okoro

- Sat Mar 06 2021

This past week we hit 11C in New York. It’s not exactly spring yet, but after what feels like an incredibly long winter, the slight rise in temperature was enough to get me scouring the internet for exhibitions welcoming masked visitors. I’ve been so cautious and homebound the past few months, and I’ve missed venturing out to see art in real life, up close and personal.


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Pippy Houldsworth Gallery

Insight Week 6

Ming Smith

- Wed Jul 22 2020

Mathenge understands that a slight shift in perception can significantly alter the way we interact with the world around us and thus proposes that any radical action begins with the gaze, with not being afraid to "see" and perceive.

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All City Canvas

Wangari Mathenge Cuestiona La Definición Del “Expatriado”

Fernando Huacuz

- Thu May 07 2020

En su última serie, The Expats, la pintora Wangari Mathenge nos presenta una nueva serie de obras que abordan el concepto de “repatriado” desde una postura crítica, pues normalmente se asocia este concepto con los inmigrantes blancos occidentales.

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Creative Rooom

Mathenge's Latest Oil Paintings Question the Dehumanising Meaning Behind The Term 'Expats'

Katy Cowan

- Wed Apr 29 2020

Wangari Mathenge turns to history as inspiration for her oil paintings which reinterpret traditional African patriarchal society alongside her own.

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Culture Type

Wangari Mathenge's Paintings Foreground Experiences of Black Women

Victoria Valentine

- Tue Apr 14 2020

Mathenge blends the historic and the contemporary. Giving voice and context to the experiences of women, her layered scenes reflect customary African society through the lens of the current moment. Produced in 2019 and 2020, her series "The Expats" and "The Ascendents" feature women in familial scenes. The images portray non-Western migrants and explore the socioeconomic and political implications of their status. Her subjects exude pride and dignity, refusing to allow the discrimination and othering they bear to shape their identity or define their humanity.

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10 Black Figurative Painters You Should Know

Isis Davis-Marks

- Tue Feb 11 2020

The increased visibility for black figurative painters has led to a shift in the dialogue around painting and identity and has given more black artists the opportunity to showcase their work in places where they had previously been excluded.


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Riot Material

Wangari Mathenge’s Aura of Quiet

Eve Wood

- Fri Oct 25 2019

Wangari Methenge’s luminous exhibition in the project space at Roberts Projects — simply and aptly titled Aura of Quiet has only three works in it, yet each one extends a very private conversation into a public sphere, all the while maintaining a deeply intimate connection. Methenge’s silent dialogue is one of personal strength, humility, and majesty. Each of her figures demonstrates within the scope of their body language and expression, their own strategies for living, indeed for thriving in a world that appears to have gone mad.

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Art of Choice

Wangari Mathenge Analyzes the Shaping and Shifting Of Identity

Maria Vogel

- Tue Apr 16 2019

Wangari Mathenge uses art as a tool to find connection with space. Originally from Kenya, Mathenge moved to US for school which started her on her path to pursue art full time. Mathenge paints figures using bold brushstrokes that exude with emotion on the canvas. Though she draws inspiration from photographs of herself and loved ones, Mathenge does not wish to represent but rather to explore the possibilities that arise from the source. Mathenge is currently based in CA but will be moving this fall to attend The Art Institute of Chicago