Little-known at home Armitage celebrated abroad

Saturday November 2 2019

'White Cube' by Michael Armitage.

'White Cube' by Michael Armitage. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

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Michael Armitage—a Kenyan-born and London-based artist—will have eight pieces of his work on show at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), in New York, USA.
Armitage’s exhibition will be presented in MoMa’s new Projects Gallery on the expanded ground floor, which also houses the street-level gallery of architecture and design.

His paintings are influenced by people, animals, nature and material from social media in Kenya.

He paints with oil on Lubugo, a barkcloth harvested from trees in Uganda instead of on canvas or board.

“The use of Lubugo is an attempt to locate and destabilise the subject of the paintings,’’ he says.

His work has been exhibited in Hong Kong, Beijing, Edinburgh, the US, France and New York.

He recently exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia and also at the Venice Biennale. He is hosted by the White Cube Gallery in London.


Born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1984 Armitage moved to the UK to attend the Royal Academy Schools. He studied art at Slade School of Art in London.

Although he enjoys almost celebrity status in European and American art circles, he is little known in Kenya.

In 2017, he was among Kenyan contemporary artists featured in a book compiled by Susan Wakhungu-Githuku.

Today, he divides his time between his studio in London and Nairobi. He travels extensively, researches, takes photographs and shoots films and gathers material from popular media.

MoMa, first opened in 1929 to showcase modern and contemporary art, reopened on October 21 after extensive renovations that have added more gallery space, for about a thousand additional pieces of art to be put on display.

During the renovation, the art pieces were also cleaned and touched up and the galleries reorganised.