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Wangari Mathenge

Roberts Projects is pleased to announce representation of Wangari Mathenge, a historically-focused painter who reinterprets traditional African patriarchal society alongside her own. Juxtaposing modern and contemporary references, Mathenge's work is dedicated to the investigation and incorporation of a visual testimony of the oft-discounted black female experience within the context of both customary African society and the Diaspora. Shifting the dialogue around painting and identity, the artist's portraits highlight these silent exchanges and hierarchical dynamics. Often depicting people with whom she has significant relationships, her paintings are realized through structured compositions emboldened with gestural strokes and mark making.

Mathenge’s newest series, The Expats, which debuted in late 2019, recontextualizes the descriptor as a way of exposing its reserved status as a qualifier for white western migrants. But while an investigation into lexicons that illustrate migration may not implicate the socio-economic or political status of non-western migrants, Mathenge calls into question the reserving of words as markers of ‘othering,’ perpetuating hierarchies and by default sanctioning discrimination and dehumanization.

Mathenge’s 2019 exhibition, Aura of Quiet was the artist’s first solo show with Roberts Projects. Her second show with the gallery will take place in 2021. A catalogue will be published in conjunction with the exhibition.

Originally from Kenya, Wangari Mathenge currently lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. Mathenge has a background in International Business and Law and is a graduate of both Howard University and Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C. (LL.M. International Business and Economic Law). In 2019, she joined the MFA Painting and Drawing Program at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Her works are held in private collections in Africa, Europe and North America.