Onditi’s practice challenges our understanding of both our cultural topography and the physical world within which we exist. Addressing universal themes of pollution, climate change, fragmented and unequal societies, and the degradation of our natural planet, Onditi’s practice eschews trendy identity politics to focus on endemic issues affecting all of humanity.
Working on his preferred canvas of digital polyester inkjet plates, Onditi is able to compose intricate and complex masterpieces portraying societal chaos and decay with a variety of oils, caustic acids, prints, and film. Seemingly intricate cityscapes give way to utter desolation, the degeneration aided by vibrant, almost radioactive luminosity suggesting our half-life is imminent. Moving away from his historically isolated and anonymized “smokey” character in his previous works, we now experience social movements at scale – with anonymous figures in the plural navigating the treacherous landscape.
Ultimately, Onditi’s canvases remind the audience of what is at stake. Our collective existence is in the balance, the future malleable, the outcome uncertain.
Born in Kenya in 1980, Paul Onditi moved to Germany in 2000, where he studied art at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Offenbach am Main. In 2010 he returned to Nairobi, where he is currently living and practicing. Exhibitions include African Metropolis. An Imaginary City, Rome (2018), 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, London (2018), Shifting Backgrounds, 50 Golborne, London (2018), Dak’Art Biennale, Senegal (2018), and VOLTA New York (2017).