Kimathi Mafafo (born 1984 in Kimberley, South Africa) is a multidisciplinary artist whose practise ranges from embroidery, oil painting to installation. Born in the semi-arid Kimberley in the Northern Cape of South Africa, Mafafo questions historical stereotypes around gender inequality in Africa. She primarily focuses on celebrating the black female and abstracted forms placing them in often verdant imaging characterised by lush greenery and sensuous drapery, are far removed from the dusty mining town where she grew up.
‘While her compositions may burst with riotous plant life each leaf and frond remain meticulously executed. Her compositions are seductive in their level of detail yet remain curiously flat, emphasising their highly staged nature and the narrative element, which is central to her work. Her imagery is partly guided by her desire to celebrate the black female form, inspiring women to embrace their own worth and beauty. Her earliest works are partly autobiographical and tell the story of a woman withdrawing from the urban lifestyle and finding strength in nature and within herself. Mafafo works alongside Mustapha Saadu — a tailor from Ghana — with whom she has collaborated on a series of embroideries telling stories of women trapped under the weight of tradition and not fully realising their worth. Embroidery is an ancient transcendent, and Kimathi as an emerging female artist, has found solace in the art form, transforming herself and her artwork.’ - Taken from 'This Woman’s Work’: a brief reading of Kimathi Mafafo’s artwork's by Dr Same Mdluli, Arts Writer and Historian.
Kimathi Mafafo’s artworks can be found in important public and private collections worldwide. Kimathi Mafafo’s practice in painting and embroidery work is a raw articulation of two mediums that have embodied the Black woman and/or female’s body within the tradition of woman’s work... In these, she creates a tension between becoming and being, concealing and revealing, retreating and showing up, all of which are an embodiment of the arduous negotiations Black women have to make in navigating their existence in society.