Kimathi Mafafo | Artist Overview

Kimathi Mafafo (b. 1984) is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice ranges from embroidery and oil painting to installation. Mafafo obtained a National Diploma in Fine Arts from the College of Cape Town in 2007 and a National Diploma in Film and Video from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2016. Born in the semi-arid Kimberley in the Northern Cape of South Africa, Mafafo questions historical stereotypes around gender inequality in Africa. She primarily focuses on celebrating the black female and depicting abstracted forms typically surrounded by verdant imagery, characterised by lush greenery and sensuous drapery that are far removed from the dusty mining town where she grew up. She has recently organized a group of Capetonian woman into an informal traditional embroidery society. 

Solo exhibitions include (Upcoming) Ebullience, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London (2024); Wandering in the Unknown World, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Berlin, Germany (2023); Kgolagano – A Covenant, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa (2022); Gestures from The Awakened Mind, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London, UK (2021); Embolden, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa (2019); Solo Presentation, at Investec Cape Town Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED (2018); CITCC, Cape Town, South Africa (2018); Alone in Spring, EBONY/CURATED, Cape Town, South Africa (2017); Withdrawn, World Art, Cape Town, South Africa (2015).

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“I would often watch my grandmother doing her embroidery, so it was embedded in me from a young age. It was one of those skills that were just there waiting for me to use it. When I describe my medium or textile, I say I ‘paint with thread’ because I come from a painting background. And although embroidery and textile have been mostly been female-hand practices, I would say that I didn’t choose embroidery – it chose me. “

Kimathi Mafafo