NAIROBI – A Kenyan painter and rising star in the international art world said in an EFE interview on Friday that he believed African rulers were puppets of the West and criticized the economic controls exercised by foreign powers over the continent.
Shabu Mwangi, born in 1985, is a Kenyan artist who resides in Mukuru kwa Njenga, a shanty town outside of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, and has gained fame wowing art fans at prestigious venues ranging from the Gallery of African Art in London to the Art Fair in Cape Town.
Mwangi discussed issues such as international migration, saying that African migrants were not refugees because migration is a result of what Europe did to the African continent and lamenting that African states and regimes “are still controlled by Europe; money always depends on the West.”
The artist paints mostly in blacks, grays and blues while the faces of his characters can seem disturbing – even monstrous – although Mwangi stressed that his works simply reflect reality.
“Only some people understand my art, because they are afraid to confront beauty unmasked, naked,” Mwangi said.
Although he said he feels proud of his African origins, Mwangi rejected the label of “African artist” because he wanted to avoid limiting himself.
“I speak for all humans and I belong everywhere,” he said.