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For their debut at Independent, Niru Ratnam will present works by the London-based artist Kimathi Donkor. Appropriating the classical styles of Western art, Donkor reinstates and centers the Black subjects who have been erased from that canon. Following a hiatus from art-making in the 1990s, when he focused on social activism, he returned to painting in the 2000s. He developed a series depicting police brutality against the Black British community alongside representations of historical figures such as Toussaint L’Ouverture and Harriet Tubman, which anticipated current debates about the decolonization of art history. Donkor’s solo presentation will feature works from a series marking the bicentenary of Haiti’s independence, precipitated by L’Ouverture’s revolutionary leadership of freed slaves against French colonial rule.
About the Gallery
Niru Ratnam opened in 2020. The program builds on Ratnam's academic and writing interests from the late 1990s onwards. The gallery represents ten artists with a mixture of established, mid-career and emerging artists whose work often interrogates the canon around ethnicity, gender, sexuality and class. They work across painting, film, installation, photography and sculpture.
Kimathi Donkor, Drama Queen: Scenes from the life of Njinga Mbandi, 2020. Oil on canvas, 100 x 120 cm. Courtesy of artist and Niru Ratnam, London
Kimathi Donkor, Jean Charles Menenzes borne aloft by Joy Gardner and Stephen Lawrence, 2020. Oil on canvas, 190 x 160 cm. Courtesy of artist and Niru Ratnam, London
Kimathi Donkor, Let us go over, 2016. Oil on canvas, 80 x 100 cm. Courtesy of artist and Niru Ratnam, London
Kimathi Donkor, Saint Iphignela LMN, 2011. Oil on canvas, 120 x 150 cm. Courtesy of artist and Niru Ratnam, London
Kimathi Donkor, Toussaint L'Ouvertre at Bedourete, 2004. Oil on canvas, 136 x 183 cm. Courtesy of artist and Niru Ratnam, London