A vibrant series by Thandiwe Muriu celebrates African culture and heritage

There is a detailed and quite engaging explanation for each vibrant image in Thandiwe Muriu’s series. Camouflage: he deciphers the hidden meanings, references and stories behind objects, prints, hairstyles. Each is also associated with an

There is a detailed and quite engaging explanation for each vibrant image in Thandiwe Muriu’s series. Camouflage: he deciphers the hidden meanings, references and stories behind objects, prints, hairstyles. Each is also associated with an African proverb, and one particularly caught my attention: “As far as a stream flows, it does not forget its origin”. Seems like a good metaphor for Muriu’s art. Self-taught, born and raised in Nairobi, Thandiwe has managed to create her own universe, fusing Kenyan history and tradition with her personal – and totally contemporary – aesthetic.

Sculptural hairstyles, bright prints, everyday objects transform into something new and unexpected, and all these elements come together in photographs that are a kind of transfiguration, portraits that become powerful symbols of beauty and pride.

The title itself is a clue to this symbolic process: the subjects do indeed camouflage themselves in the background but, as she eloquently explains, only to make them stand out: “It’s a commentary on the way which, as individuals, we can get lost in the culture of expectations has on us, yet there are things so unique and beautiful about each individual.”

His work is on display until October 28, 2022, alongside artists Derrick Ofosu Boateng and Hassan Hajjaj, for the last Venetian chapter of the 193 Gallery, aptly titled “The Colors of Dreams”. Here we dive deep into the world of Thandiwe, discovering how she developed her unique style, the role that vogue played in the decision to become an artist and the influence of the glorious African traditions of portraiture, hairstyles and printed fabrics.