Richard Kimathi was born in 1971 in Nyeri, Kenya. He received a diploma from the Nairobi Creative Art Centre with a major in Graphic Art. After graduation, he took up Fine Art as a career.
In 2000, Richard received a letter from the New York selection committee appointed to choose the work for a limited-edition postage stamp for the United Nations: ‘You, along with Vermeer and Matisse, have been chosen …’. This defining moment for Kenyan artists and for Kimathi in particular added still more force to the rising tide of international recognition of the extraordinary talent that is blossoming in the contemporary art of Kenya.
Richard is always exploring, experimenting, searching for a better expression. He has grown from these early years into an artist of considerable technical ability: confident in line, composition and colour; profound in expression. His work is seldom about himself, it is about us: humanity and how we are; unaffected by bling and hype and other aggrandisements evident in much of the contemporary art of our mass mediated world.
A sense of suffering: dignified, heroic even; without self-pity and borne as if merely the price of living; portrayed with an empathy and a compassion elegant in its simplicity and in its honesty, it permeates much of his work.
“He is a master of reduction. He seems to throw out anything specific and replaces it with a generic: the colour and shape of the eyes; the line of the mouth; the nose; the colour of the skin; perspective: all replaced with stylised shapes, flat planes of colour and line reduced to a minimum. The result is not incoherence but a precise statement of complex mood and emotion – quite remarkable!”
Selection of works
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2018 - "Bare Knuckle", Solo Exhibition, One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya
2017 - "On the outside looking in", Solo Exhibition, One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya
2014 - "Men and Women", Solo Exhibition, One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya
2014 - “Pop up Africa”, Gallery of African Art, Cork Street, London, UK
2013 - "Little Dresses", Solo Exhibition, One Off Contemporary Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya
2011 - Solo Exhibition, Gazzambo Gallery, Madrid
2006 - Represented Kenya at Dak’Art in Dakar, Senegal
Kimathi has participated in international artists’ workshops and has exhibited in Kenya, USA, Germany, Austria, Italy, and the Netherlands.
He has featured in many international and local art publications.
Recipient of the 2001 Ruth Hunt-Wood Foundation Residency as Artist in Residence at the University of Kentucky, USA
Daily Nation - 08-09-2018 - Kimathi explores meaning of manliness in solo show
EastAfrican - 08-09-2018 - GALLERIES: Bare knuckle bit to K.O prejudice
EasrAfrican - 11-97-2017 - The Growing unease of pale moon faces
EastAfrican - 19-03-2016 - Pictures that astonish then finally convince
EastAfrican - 10-10-2014 - The artists' artist with an edgy touch
Business Daily - 31-01-2013 - Art enthusiasts spoilt for choice with exhibitions
East African - 01-02-2013 - Come up and see Kimathi some time
Ndege News - 22-01-2012 - The African soul laid bare in Airkenya lounge exhibit
Richard Kimathi is exclusively represented in East Africa by One Off