Wangechi Mutu – Tutor Reccomended Reading/ Viewing

Wangechi Mutu

Kenyan born (1972) artist now based in New York.  She is contemporary african artist that explores the themes of Anthropology, feminism, gender, and race. Similarly to Ellen Gallagher she explores the themes of black african oppression.

Wangechi Mutu’s work is extremely imaginative and conceptual. This brochure about her Teaching/ Special Exhibition ” A Fantastical Journey” explains the deeper context she presents through imagery;

In the work titled “Riding Death in her Sleep” she explores the theme of Women and Violence as the brochure explains about her realisation through a tragic event that ” I understood that there was a difference between women’s rights and
human rights,” (Mutu 2013).

Imagery in the work includes Stiletto heals as weapons or power symbols. Mushrooms  represent immigrants that are viewed as fungi, settling in other countries often unwanted. Hybrid creatures, leopard (africa) print fashion and the “bodiless bald eagle is recognizable as a symbol of the United States”  (Jones de Almeida 2013).


Fig 1 Riding Death in her Sleep 2002 ink collage on paper.

Points of interest

  • Layering method of collage of ink on paper
  • Use of INK  (appears to me like marbling) “variety of techniques from airbrush to stencilling, controlled spills, and detailed brushwork, Mutu’s image poses as a composite of gesture; collaged photographic elements merge seamlessly into the painterly aesthetic. Incorporating both the organic patterns of dyed fabric and the exaggerated flourish of fashion illustration” (Saatchi 2017)
  • Uses found medical paper and glitter.
  • Study of Anthropology (aspects of humans within past and present society).
  • Imaginative, deep context to the collage through use of imagery/ symbolism.
  • At the center of Mutu’s works, she often places a performing or posed figure and uses this as a means to focus the eye and to unlock dialogue about perception in both personal and political realms.

Further Articles Read/ Images Viewed

Artists own website

The Future of Afrofuturism

About Multiple works by Wangechi Mutu


Fig 1 Riding Death in her Sleep 2002 4th July 2017).

Jones De Almeida 2013 Brooklyn Museum  Teaching resource, Special Edition Wangechi Mutu  A Fantastic Journery (PDF) At: (accessed 4th July 2017).

Saatchi 2017 Wangechi Mutu ,Saatchi Gallery At: techniques, materials (accessed 4th July 2017).


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