Some says its grotesque, some says it’s life, no matter what you say, she is listening. Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year Wangechi Mutu is pleased, because she knows people are looking. The artist is well known for her collages that are so passionate about female bodies. But what’s more intensive is her desire to draw others’ attention to life of people back in her homeland, Kenya as well as the African community.
Mutu’s paintings are made on Mylar, and by combining a myriad of medium from ink to motorbike parts, she recreates the image of a dissected anatomy of the female figure. By doing this, she aims to share her views of the controversies between female, cultural identity and the intricacies of colonial history, contemporary African politics and the global fashion industry. Their forms are grotesquely marred through perverse modification, echoing the atrocities of war or self-inflicted improvements of plastic surgery. Mutu examines how ideology is very much tied to corporeal form. She cites a European preference to physique that has been inflicted on and adapted by Africans, resulting in both social hierarchy and genocide.
You can tell it’s Wangechi Mutu’s when you see a juxtaposition of objects which appear in scenarios least expected in an art gallery. Indeed, art is bigger than what we can imagine and this process is especially highlighted in Mutu’s art – ever thought of seeing a face made up of sex organs? Can you feel pain and torment in her work? Does anything conjure in your head?
Mutu has presented large solo exhibition of her works at the Berlin Guggenheim as well as galleries and museums worldwide including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Miami Art Museum, Tate Modern in London, the Studio Museum in Harlem in New York, Museum Kunst Palast in Düsseldorf, Germany, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Born in Kenya in 1972, Wangechi Mutu is a trained sculptor and anthropologist based in New York. She was educated in Nairobi at Loreto Convent Msongari (1978-1989) and later at the United World College of the Atlantic, Wales. Mutu moved to New York in the 1990s and further studied Fine Arts and Anthropology at the New School for Social Research and Parsons School of Art and Design. In 1996, she earned a BFA from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of the Arts and Science and four years later, a MFA from Yale University.