Tilleard Projects is proud to present a solo presentation of painted portraits by Lawrence (Shabu) Mwangi at NADA, New York from March 8-11, 2018.
Thirty-two year old Mwangi’s paintings are about the human emotions he encounters amongst silenced minorities. One of Shabu Mwangi’s central themes describes escape and migration. His most recent series came out of interactions and exchanges with asylum seekers in Berlin. Mwangi spent five-months in Germany on a painting fellowship, “narrating” the lives of the stateless, voiceless refugees.
Shabu Mwangi’s portraits are minimal and indistinct. Flat plains of color create inhuman landscapes in which the formless open-mouthed figures float. The faces and bodies are ill-defined – it is the oil stick skeletal lines for teeth, for hands, for feet that define these forms as human. In a number of larger works, scraped lines of red or yellow define claustrophobic spaces for the inhabitants; a caged Francis Bacon-esque existence. In others dry translucent layers shroud the figures. The hazy hues riff on 1950s color field explorations. They create a beautiful background to despair.
Shabu Mwangi lives and works in Mukuru, an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. He is the founder and director of Wanjukuu Art Project. Mwangi had a recent solo exhibition at Circle Gallery, Nairobi. He was the 2017 Fellow at the IFA Schlesische (S27) in Berlin. Shabu’s work has been presented at GARFA, London, in 2014, and Waende Suedost Project in Essen, Germany in 2012.