In his first solo show with Montague Contemporary Pipes that Bind 2 Kenyan artist Paul Onditi presents new works made since the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Employing his signature, highly intensive techniques of layered oils, caustic acids, prints, and film, Onditi reimagines his long-standing Smokey series, evolving his archetype from the passive, stoic capitalist to better reflect the existential crisis and uncertainty faced during contemporary life. Paul Onditi’s recent body of work is a reflection on the cyclical and connected world within which we live. Onditi’s previous series Background, notably presented at the Kenya National Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, addressed the structural challenges we face as a society – geopolitical, economic, social, environmental – and the cyclical nature of these routine upheavals. With the return of Smokey to the tableau we are afforded a glimpse into how Onditi sees the individual human experience in relation to these issues playing out in the background.
Paul 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.