In The Expats Studies: Impressions on Paper, Kenyan-born, Chicago-based artist Wangari Mathenge presents a collection of new drawings. Mathenge paints small groups of individuals in conversational sittings viewed from interesting perspectives, which provides insight into both the subject and circumstance. This intimate series of works on paper sees her father at times in familial settings – reading, draped across chairs or posing with a child. Mathenge’s confident, precise hand adds to the beauty of her portraits, creating images that are both personal and expansive.
Wangari Mathenge's work is dedicated to the investigation and incorporation of an integrated visual testimony of the oft-discounted black female experience within the context of both traditional African society and the Diaspora. Shifting the dialogue around painting and identity, Mathenge’s portraits highlight these silent exchanges and hierarchical dynamics. Often depicting people with whom she has significant relationships, her paintings are realized through structured compositions emboldened with gestural strokes, and mark making. The use of detailed patterning and bright colors adds to the beauty of her portraits, creating images that are both therapeutic and generative.
Mathenge currently lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. She has a background in International Business and Law and is a graduate of both Howard University and Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C. (LL.M. International Business and Economic Law). In 2019, Mathenge joined the MFA Painting and Drawing Program at the School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Her works are held in private collections in Africa, Europe and North America.