Wangechi Mutu was born in Nairobi, Kenya and currently works between New York and Kenya.
Through a variety of media including painting collage, sculpture, performance and most recently video, Wangechi Mutu explores questions of self-image, gender constructs, cultural trauma and environmental destruction.
With her characteristic hybrid, morphed and organic forms, she describes inherent and shared alienations. She proposes the idea of identity as performative and absolutely necessary in order to withstand social constructs and loss, as well as to rewrite the rules that bind our imagination.
Mutu’s work presents a visceral and compelling discourse with dominant modes of representation. In Mutu’s worlds, the body is a contested space and a testing ground for the reimagining of our relationship with man-made forces and the natural world. Her visual language is further enriched by experimentation with unexpected materials, some imbued with cultural significations, like Kenyan tea and volcanic red soil, gems and seeds.
Mutu has been the subject of major solo exhibitions at institutions worldwide, including the Deutsche Guggenheim Museum in Berlin, Musée D’art Contemporain de Montréal, Staatliche Kunsthalle in Baden Baden, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Nasher Museum of Art in Durham, North Carolina, among others. In the coming year, Mutu will present solo exhibitions at The Contemporary Austin, Institute of Contemporary Art Boston and Museum Dhondt- Dhaenens, Deurle, Belgium. Mutu was featured in 56th International Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Venice Biennale: All the World’s Futures (2015), and the Dak’Art Biennial (2014). She is the recipient of the National Artist Award from Anderson Ranch Arts Center (2017), Cultural Leadership Award from the American Foundation of Arts (2016), United States Artist Grant (2014), and Artist of the Year Awards from both the Brooklyn Museum (2013) and Deutsche Guggenheim (2010).
Portrait of Wangechi Mutu (2017) Courtesy of the artist. Credit: Mutu Studio