Stephen Mbatia was born in Murang’a, Kenya, just before the independence of Kenya, in 1963. He is well known to Nairobi art lovers. Being a keen observer of life in Kenya, his paintings communicate his fascination with the people of his homeland, and his concern for issues that affect them.
Mbatia attended Thika High School and Kenya Polytechnic, before completing his BED in Fine Arts in 1988. He later taught for five years at Thogoto Teachers College before opening his own art studio in Ngong, Kenya.
Mbatia has exhibited his work in the Signature Gallery, British Council, Art Panorama, and the French Cultural Center. He has been accorded a solo exhibition by the Nairobi National Museum. Mbatia has recently exhibited internationally in both New York and Tokyo.
Below you will find an eclectic collection of his works. His watercolor paintings of animals are unique, using bold background strokes to accentuate the detail of the foreground animals. His portrayals show the fluidity and gracefulness of the animals using a minimum of color.
The four painting below the animal paintings are a rare find in African art – the use of a style called ‘monotype’, where the artist actually paints on a piece of glass. He then places a delicate sheet of paper on the finished glass plate and using a roller, presses the paper onto the still-wet painting. The paper is then removed from the glass and let dry. The result is a wonderful blend of colors with an interesting lack of texture, almost like a print. The use of this technique is an example of Mbatia’s quest to experiment with color and texture, as well as utilizing a method rarely seen in contemporary African paintings.
This collection of paintings gives a good array of Mbatia’s style, and certainly shows his talent and motivation to expand his interests.
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