Circle Art Gallery, Nairobi, Kenya 09 Sep 2020 - 09 Oct 2020
Agnes Waruguru, Small Things to Consider, 2020. Installation view. Courtesy of Circle Art Gallery.
Circle Art Gallery is pleased to present Small Things to Consider, a solo exhibition of new works – drawings, paintings, and prints – by Agnes Waruguru (Kenyan, b. 1994), on view in the gallery by appointment from 9 September to 9 October 2020.
From her time as a student of painting and as a practicing artist, Agnes Waruguru has treated painting as a site and a process for exploring the material of objects and their capacity to act as markers of identity and carriers of personal histories. This has led her to avoid the more typical approach to painting on primed, stretched canvas. She works predominantly on cotton, using dyeing, pouring, and spraying, alongside brushwork as her means of applying paint. More notable, is the incorporation of acts of making that she has learned and inherited from the women in her life. Beadwork, sewing, needlework, embroidery and knitting are all included in her work, placing her personal identity in her practice and connecting it to traditions of women’s work.
In July of 2019, Waruguru went to Lamu, a town on the Northern coast of Kenya, for a six week residency. Her experiences there, particularly her observations of the environment and the need to make work instinctively, responding to her surroundings and relying on the available materials, formed the beginnings of the body of work featured in this exhibition. Small Things to Consider brings together abstract landscapes, drawings, and delicate monoprints. In these she relies on the language of painting to record the passing of time and the landscapes which she’s moved through.
The paintings (some of them named for specific places) all begin with pours over the surface – usually cotton – after which acrylic paint and some dyes are applied in soft loose washes. Further marks are introduced with pastels, charcoal, Indian ink and and in some cases stitching. Accompanying the paintings are drawings which more clearly reference the physical environment, incorporating trees and florets, and lines that suggest terrains and vegetation. Included in the exhibition, is a series of acrylic monoprints on paper created using acrylic paint on mesh/netting used for construction works; these were gathered and created while in Lamu and provide a starting point for reading the work as both chronicles and speculations on physical and metaphysical space.
These works are bright, expansive, and atmospheric. In their translucency they manage a fine balance between softness and heft, between the familiar and the dreamlike. They invite viewers to wander in Waruguru’s imagination and weave their own narratives.
Agnes Waruguru received her BFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2017. She returned to Nairobi where she is currently based, and has since participated in group exhibitions at Circle Art Gallery and at One Off Contemporary. In 2020, Waruguru participated in the inaugural edition of the Stellenbosch Triennale, in South Africa; her work was included in On the Cusp, a section dedicated to “unraveling the creative talents of tomorrow. She has exhibited in Kenya, South Africa, the USA, and France. She has participated in residencies in Lamu, Kenya and Sydney, Australia.