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Biography of Richard ONYANGO

Kenya > Arts : Richard ONYANGO

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Biography :

Richard Onyango (born in 1960) is a Kenyan artist.

Born in 1960 in Kisii, Kenya,lives and works in Malindi, Kenya.
For the first thirty years of his life Richard Onyango supported himself through a remarkable range of occupations—sign-painter, bus-driver, woodcarver, carpenter, fashion designer, furniture maker, farmer, animal trainer. He was born in the western highlands of Kenya, near Lake Victoria; while he was still very young his family moved to the developing costal regions. His father worked for the Tana River Irrigation Scheme, and Onyango became fascinated with the signs of industrial development in the African landscape: trucks, tractors, bulldozers, planes, etc. As a child he recorded such impressions in a series of sketches he called “photo pictures” of “whatever my eye could see.” He has explained further, “To keep things properly in mind I had to draw them since I didn’t have a camera to record what I would like to put in memory.”
These elements are still present in Onyango’s paintings today. He frequently chooses to depict situations that waver between the exaltation of imported technology and its fragility. Accidents, warnings, calls for prudence reveal a world constantly threatened by disaster and the unforeseeable. Like many contemporary African artists, Onyango’s pictorial language is characterized by its great legibility. Rather than evidence of primitivism, this legibility demonstrates the importance Onyango accords to representation as a means of direct communication. The unreal theatricality of his work similarly engages the spectator: the distortion of perspective and form and the moody tonality of the heightened palette dramatize the painting’s relationship with the spectator, who in turn becomes a helpless or complicit participant in the events described.
This psychological tension is notably present in the paintings that Onyango dedicated to his relationship with Drosie. White and curvaceous, the young woman is represented in imaginary or real situations that compress all the fantasies that Africa projects onto the West. Whether depicting the couples’ alternating domination and submission or the fascination exercised by a life-style synonymous with luxury and wealth, Onyango succeeds in inverting stereotypes and denouncing their inherent violence.

Selected Solo Exhibitions

2003?Laboratorio di Rochard Onyango?Atelier del Baglio di Stefano?Gibellina - Italy
2001?Franco Cancelliere Arte Contemporanea?Messina – Italy
2000?A.Bonito Oliva. ?Fabbrica EOS?Milan – Italy
1999?Richard Onyango?MAMCO.?Geneva, Switzerland.
1999?Richard Onyango?Fabbrica Eos.?Milan, Italy.
1999?Richard Onyango?Franco Cancelliere Arte Contemporanea.?Messina, Italy.
1992?" The African Way of Painting " Richard Onyango?- Gallery of Contemporary East?African Art. Nairobi, Kenya.?- Fondazione MUDIMA.?Mailand, Italy.?- Salvatore Ala Gallery.?New York, USA.
1991?One man exhibition?Malindi Art gallery.?Malindi, Kenya.
1991?Richard Onyango?- Artifico & Artefatto Gallery.?- White Elephant Sea Gallery.?- Wild Side Shop.?- Malindi, Kenya.
2005?Arts of Africa?Grimaldi Forum?Monaco - France
2005?African Art Now : Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection?Museum of Fine Art Houston?Houston - USA
2004 (travelling exhibition)?Africa Remix?Art contemporain d’un continent
• 24 July 2004 – 7 Nov 2004?Museum Kunst Palast?Düsseldorf - Germany
• 10 Feb 2005 – 17 April 2005?Hayward Gallery?London – England
• 15 May 2005 – 20 Aug 2005?Centre Georges Pompidou?Paris – France
• Feb – May 2006?Mori Art Museum?Tokyo
2003 –2004
Meridiana Immaginaria
Galeria Eclettica
Milan – Italy
2003?Dreams & Conflicts?50th Venice Biennal?Venice – Italy
2003?Nairobi Serena Hotel?Nairobi - Kenya
1999?" La Tua Africa "?Monte Di Pieta.?Messina, Italy.
1998?Africa Nera Cuore Rosso?Museo di Rosignano Marittimo. Italy.
1996?Neue Kunst Aus Afrika?Im Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt.?Berlin, Germany.
1995?Seven Stories about African Art?Whitechapel Art Gallery.?London, Great-Britain.
1993?Presenze Africane.?Artisti stranieri in Italia?Umbertide. Rocca Centro per l'Arte Contemporanea.?Perugia, Italy.
1992?Wild Life Clubs Kenya Competition?National Museum.?Nairobi, Kenya.
1992?" TER "?- Contemporary Art Gallery?Termoli, Italy.?- Domus Jani, Istituto?Internazionale d'Arte Totale.?Illasi, Italy.

Selected bibliography

2005?African Art Now: Masterpieces from the Jean Pigozzi Collection ?Exhibition catalogue. Published by Merrell.
2004?Africa Remix?Exhibition catalogue. Published by Hatje Cantz.
2000?La Tua Africa?Citta Di Messina. Monte Di Pieta.?Richard Onyango p.101-113.?" La tua Africa " Lucio Barbera, text in Italian p.13-32.?Adriano Parise Editore.
1999?Neue Kunst Aus Afrika?Im Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt.?Berlin, Germany.
1996?Contemporary art of Africa.?Onyango by Emmett Williams P.159-161. Text in English.?Edited by Andre Magnin & Jacques Soulillou.?Publisher Harry N. Abraams.
1996?Kunst Aus Kenya.?Sieben Ostafrikanische Maler.?Richard Onyango p.34-40, text in German.?Bernd Kleine-Gunk. Graphium Press.
1994?Richard Onyango?" The African Way of Painting ".?Book, texts in English, 130 pages.?Vehicules, Vessels, Trains & Planes?Afriano Parise Stampatore.
1992?Malindi 1988-1991.?A Poem, A Novel, A Movie.?Illustrations par Richard Onyango, text in Italian, English and French, 60 pages.?Sarenco. Adriano Parise Stampatore.

Last update : 07/24/2007

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