Kimathi Donkor

Kimathi Donkor, British, b. 1965

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.

Solo Exhibitions
2015 – Some Clarity of Vision, Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg, South Africa
2013 – Daddy, I Want To Be A Black Artist, Peckham Platform, London
2012 – Queens of The Undead, Iniva: Rivington Place, London
2008 – Hawkins & Co, Market Place Theatre Gallery, Armagh, N Ireland
2005 – Fall/Uprising, Bettie Morton Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2005 – Caribbean Passion: Haiti 1804, Art Exchange Gallery, Nottingham, United Kingdom (touring)
2004 – Caribbean Passion: Haiti 1804, Bettie Morton Gallery, London, United Kingdom


Group Exhibitions

2017 – Diaspora Pavilion, Venice Biennale, Palazzo Pisani S. Marina, Venice, Italy
2017 – Ink And Blood, International Slavery Museum, Liverpool, England
2017 – Selling The Shadow, C-Gallery, Milan, Italy
2017 – Sonic Soundings / Venice Trajectories, Geo-locationational sound installation, Venice, Italy
2017 – Untitled: Art on the Conditions of Our Time, New Art Exchange, Nottingham, England
2017 – 154: Contemporary African Art, Pioneer Works, New York, United States
2016 – EXPO Projects, EXPO Chicago, Chicago Il, United States
2016 – Black Art in Focus, The Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton, England
2016 – Peckham Platform Retrospective, Peckham Platform, London, England
2015 – Defining the Narrative, Gallery MOMO, Cape Town, South Africa
2015 – 154: Contemporary African Art, Somerset House, London, England
2015 – They Came from Outer Space, The Goethe Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa
2015 – Deptford X—Deptford Conversation, Deptford X Gallery, London, England
2014 – JoBurg Art Fair, With Gallery MOMO at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa
2013 – Entre Trânsitos e Viagens, Xerem at Carpinaria São Lazaro, Lisbon, Portugal
2013-2014 – What’s Going On?, The Usher Gallery, Lincoln, United Kingdom
2012 –  Invisible Forces, Furtherfield Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2011 – Seven things to do in an emergency, British School at Rome, Italy
2011 – Precious Little, St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, England
2010 – Ha sempre um copo de mar para um homem navegar, 29th Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
2008 – Hawkins & Co, Contemporary Urban Centre, Liverpool, United Kingdom
2007 – Hawkins & Co, Elspeth Kyle Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2006 – Telltale, Elspeth Kyle Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2005 – Orature, Stephen Lawrence Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2004 – Historicism, 198 Gallery, London, United Kingdom
2003 – The Jamaican Influence, The Fridge Gallery, London, United Kingdom
1987 – Creation for Liberation, Brixton Library, London, United Kingdom
1986 – Young, Black & Here, People’s Gallery, London, United Kingdom
1986 – Monti Wa Marumo, Brixton Art Gallery, London
1985 – Creation for Liberation, Brixton Recreation Centre, London, United Kingdom
1985 – Black Artists for Azania, Upper Street Gallery, London, United Kingdom
1985 – Artists Against Apartheid, Royal Festival Hall, London, United Kingdom


Award and Residency

2016-18 – Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Two-year fellowship with the TrAIN research Centre at Chelsea College of Arts, London
2015 – Artist in Residence, Two-month invitational studio residency and solo exhibition at Gallery Momo in Johannesburg, South Africa
2015 – Gate Curate Artist in Residence, Two-month invitational residency and exhibition at the Gate Theatre, Notting Hill, London. Supported by the Chelsea Arts Club Trust.
2013 – Xerem/Triangle Network, Two-week invitational studio residency with the International Artists’ Workshop in Lisbon, Portugal
2011 – Derek Hill Foundation Scholarship Award Three-month invitational studio residency with the British School at Rome in Rome, Italy
2010 – Joya Residency, Two-week studio residency at Cortijada Los Gázquez in Almeria, Spain



2017 – Royal Academy, London, Black Art and Activism
2016 – Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Black Art in Focus
2015 – Tate Britain, London, The Black Subject: Ancient to Modern
2007 – National Maritime Museum, London: Voiceless Odysseys
2007 – Imperial War Museum: Escapism