It is the principle of 'withdrawnness', of solitude, which sits behind Mafafo’s cycle of work. She seeks nothing other than the sanctity of solitude. She says of this painting in which Aziwe holds an empty glass, that its beckons to be filled. Of the fine floral patterns across bare skin, in the one painting assuming the quality of a second skin, she remarks, “It is my signature.” It is clear the paintings are autobiographical manifestations of personal growth. There is something otherworldly about the work; she is no art prankster. She imbues her work with a sense of private dignity.
In a hyper-connected 24/7 world, Kimathi Mafafo craves solitude and she ensures her work is neither Pop nor Urban. She challenges existing snobbery; she reminds us that art needn’t be evasively conceptual or glaringly noisy to garner serious attention. After all, not all art needs to be lurid wallpaper, and neither does it have to be a talking point for the pretentious. Instead, as Alain de Botton has reminded us, art can also be therapeutic. It is in this regard that Mafafo’s paintings assume their true purpose and meaning.
KIMATHI MAFAFO / The Veil Of Green
A cycle of large portraits in oil of one woman, Kimathi Mafafo's paintings hark back to the European moment when Classicism fused with Impressionism. This moment in art remains the most popular taste globally. Indeed, it has become a petit bourgeois convention. Mafafo knows this all too well.
She presents an African take on Old European portraiture, with highly technical skills in producing foliage and richness in fabric, while commenting on aspects of African womanhood. She is regularly featured in media for the sensuality of her work.