“No Country For Black Folk” introduces a recent series of works from Kenyan-based Michael Soi. Produced exclusively while in quarantine during the pandemic, the works tackle salient issues of our times that have been forced to the surface in 2020: endemic racism, xenophobia, corruption, economic disparity, and institutional disenfranchisement. One of the most vibrant artists exploring urban culture in Nairobi, Michael Soi is recognized widely for his distinctive style and satirical commentary on Kenyan social, economical, and political life.
Soi’s works, primarily bright two-dimensional paintings, are expose’s into subject matter often brushed under the rug in Kenyan society. Tackling issues like commercial sex work, intergenerational and interracial relationships, political greed, and international exploitation, Soi unabashedly confronts issues that need to be discussed.
A hallmark of his unique style is his cartoonish brush, informed by a strong tradition of cartoonists whose works have satirized Kenyan society since independence – often bravely poking fun at the political establishment. Famous for his “China Loves Africa” series, Michael Soi is an outspoken critic of neocolonialism, political elitism, the patriarchy at large, and disenfranchisement of Africans and Black Americans. Deploying his signature cartoon-sequence style makes viewers both at ease and unsettled hearing his message, which wavers between subtle and overt.
His works have been collected and shown widely, in Japan, South Korea, Ghana, Denmark, Switzerland, South Africa, the UK and he has participated in residencies in the US, UK, Netherlands, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Ghana. This is his first ever solo exhibition in the US.