Sidney Mang’ong’o, (1983 – 2020)

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Born in 1983, Sidney Mang’ong’o started practising art at the age of 25. While he was never a member of the Kibera-based Maasai Mbilli Collective, a meeting with artist, Kota Otieno, and encounters with this group of artists were significant in those initial years. Kota Otieno would go on to become an important mentor and an enduring influence in the evolution of Mang’ong’o’s practice.

Mang’ong’o moved into a studio at the Kuona Trust in 2011, where he stayed for about three years. During this time, a lot of time was spent observing the work of other artists, including a participation in the 2012 Wasanii Workshop along artists such as Ephrem Solomon (Ethiopia), Wanja Kimani (Kenya/ UK), and Dennis Muraguri (Kenya). Mang’ong’o cites Dennis Muraguri and Omosh Kindeh as strong influences during the time he spent at Kuona. Following the move from Kuona, Mang’ong’o, for a time, shared a studio with Kota Otieno in Ngong’, before moving his practice to his home in Matasia, where he maintains a studio to date.

Mang’ong’o’s practice has been marked by experimentation, working primarily in the mediums of painting and collage, often combining of the two. Much of his work over the past few years has relied on laborious layering of found imagery on paper and board, using textures, colours, and political jargons to explore notions of socio-political degradation.

The work has evolved from the figurative and overtly representational to take on a more abstract quality. He has, however, maintained his deployment of colours in vivid combinations and an attentiveness to texture. His most recent work relies on fields of colour, geometric shapes, and textures to explore forms as they appear in built environment.

Previous exhibitions include: Ziba Ufa (Seal the Crack) at the Kuona Trust (2011); X-tract, Subtract, Abstract, Circle Art Agency (2013); Paper II, Circle Art Agency (2015); and Freedom Flight Refuge, Circle Art Agency (2016). In 2017, Mang’ong’o was one of four artists presented by Circle Art agency at the Jo’burg Art Fair. Imagined Structures is Sidney Mang’ong’o’s first solo exhibition.

Sadly Sidney passed away on Friday 30th May at his home in Matasia, he was 37 years old. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family and the artistic community of which he was a part, particularly at Kuona and Masai Mbili.