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40 Under 40 Africa

Michael Armitage

28 September 2020

Artist and founder of the Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute, London and Nairobi

Earlier this year, the painter Michael Armitage founded the Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute (NCAI) – a non-profit exhibition space and research centre that aims to support the growth of contemporary art in the region and to preserve the rich history of East African art. The centre will host a programme of exhibitions, talks and educational events, and is building an archive to ‘tell the story of the artists and the art of East Africa’. NCAI has already begun working closely with artists and existing arts infrastructure in Nairobi, collaborating with the Kuona Artists Collective on the creation of a contemporary art library at the centre. The opening of the space has been delayed due to Covid-19, but off-site projects that have taken place include ‘Mwili Akili na Roho’, a travelling exhibition of figurative painting in Kenya from the 1970s to the 1990s, providing international exposure for mainstays of the Kenyan art scene such as Theresa Musoke and Asaph Ng’ethe Macua.

That exhibition is currently on show as part of Armitage’s solo exhibition at the Haus der Kunst in Munich (until 14 February 2021); Armitage’s own large-scale oil paintings on bark cloth have been exhibited to acclaim around the world, in solo shows at MoMA in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney (both 2019), among many others. He was one of the artists named on the Apollo 40 Under 40 Europe in 2018.

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