Kaloki Nyamai


My Name is Kaloki Nyamai. I am 36 years, I was born in Kitui eastern part of kenya. I am married to one wife and two gorgeous amazing kids. And also I have a pet Called police very playful. I use roller to apply paint on the canvas, some pieces sometimes I use cow dung, I also do a lot of stitching in my work using the burned tyre strings this is a symbol of bringing a society that has been broken together. 

Image courtesy of Kaloki Nyamai

Tell us your story, how did you come to painting?

I was introduced to painting by my mother. She created my first interest by showing me how to draw a face of a person by just an outline, she saw I had an interest in drawing , I used to draw on everything my school my desk, walls and all my school books. After high school I joined Art school and decided to pursue painting after trying film,fashion and music. It’s only until 2013 I realized that art was my job and my career.

How would you define your current painting?

It’s just a reality of my surroundings, in search of balance as a Kenyan  and as an African and also as black. I base my work from experiences and stories from my grandmother, her grandmother’s past, her past and my present.

Image courtesy of Kaloki Nyamai

Tell us about your style and technique. Any secret that can be told?

I use roller to apply paint on the canvas, some pieces  sometimes I use cow dung. I also do alot of stitching in my work using the burned tyre strings this is a symbol  of bringing a society that has been Broken together. It’s a sign of healing and restarting a fresh. Also use photographs of African Americans in America from the 20s to the 50s and also post election violence in Kenya  and xenophobia in the south. I put layers of images as a sign of layering information. My work can be quite thick.

How do you usually start your paintings? With a sketch, a draft or is it just an improvisation?

I start my canvases by priming them, then when it dries I start rolling thick paint on it with layer after layer. I never stretch my work when am painting.

What are your motivation forces? And the artists who have been and are an influence for you?

My past is my motivation. And I love  Mark Bradford, Sane Wadu,  Jack Karitawe.

Image courtesy of Kaloki Nyamai

What can you tell us about your studio, what kind of place is it?

My studio is in a two bedroom bungalow  where I have transformed my whole back yard into a studio and the house into a residency space for artist visiting Kenya.

What is art for you?

For me art is everywhere  and every time I see or smell or hear something that fascinates me or makes me think or question.

Piece with Artist. February 2021. © www.piecewithartist.com

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