London-based artist Dr Kimathi Donkor holds a PhD from Chelsea College of Arts as well as an MA from Camberwell College of Art and a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths. He is a Senior Lecturer at Wimbledon College of Art.
His work re-imagining historic and mythic encounters across Africa and its global Diasporas has been shown in solo and group exhibitions across the UK as well as internationally in Italy, Portugal, South Africa and Brazil—including at the 29th São Paulo Biennial.
Fascinated by the infinite capacity of the painted surface to represent our deepest desires and concerns, Donkor has depicted famous black freedom fighters such as Harriet Tubman and Njinga Mbandi using imagery drawn from canonical western artists like Caravaggio. In other works, African religious figures like the black wife of Moses or the legendary Ethiopian Saint Iphigenia are re-interpreted in 21st-century settings. From the early 2000s, Donkor also began to address key themes of contemporary urban life–ranging from the harrowing shock of police violence through to the tranquil pursuit of leisure and education.
Before settling in London, Donkor—who is of Ghanaian, Anglo-Jewish and Jamaican family heritage—lived in rural Zambia and the English west-country. Born in Bournemouth, UK, he regards his transnational legacy as helping shape the themes of his work.
He has received numerous residencies, awards and commissions including, in 2011, the Derek Hill Painting Scholarship for The British School at Rome. Writing about his practice has appeared in journals and books including ‘Black artists in British Art: a history since 1950’ (Chambers, 2014). Examples of Donkor’s painting feature in private and public collections in the UK and internationally, including the Sindika Dokolo collection and the Wolverhampton Art Gallery.