INSIDE THIS ISSUE
In Conversation with Kimathi Donkor
Kimathi Donkor was born in England. He received his B.A. in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, London and a Master’s degree in Fine Art at Camberwell College of Arts. Already internationally acclaimed, his work shows an engagement with social and political issues and an appreciation for historical black female leaders.
Your work shows an engagement with social and political issues including the racist abuse of minorities in Britain. How early did you take an active interest in politics and when did you first reflect this in your paintings?
My 2005 painting, Helping with enquiries:1984 recalled a violent incident, which I experienced whilst unjustly detained in police custody when I was a young art student. For one of the figures, I wanted
to create a convincing study of how rage can contort a man’s face, and so I discussed this at length with my friend Ben, who sat for that particular portrait. But, during the period referred to by the painting’s title – in 1984 – the art campus of Goldsmiths College (where I was enrolled on the Fine Art degree course), was close to Brixton, an area of London with a large African and Afro-Caribbean population. Many in the Black communities regarded the (almost entirely white), Metropolitan Police as an
overtly racist institution, which was manifested through patterns of oppressive, discriminatory behaviour towards young, Black men – and this had led to civil disturbances in 1981.