Kimathi Donkor (b.Bournemouth, UK, 1965) makes work that re-imagines mythic, legendary and domestic encounters across Africa and its global diasporas. Earlier work by Donkor work addresses the way western canonical art has erased black subjectivity as well as the way western history has written out black historical figures such as Toussaint L'Ouverture and Harriet Tubman. More recent work looks at how to articulate new forms of resistance through modes such as the Black fantastic and Black joy.



Whilst studying at Goldsmiths University in the 1980s Donkor became aware of the way that the British education system at the time refused (and arguably still refuses) to give Black historical figures their dues, or talk about the roles of colonialism, slavery, oppression and empire that is central to British history. On leaving art school Donkor paused his practice as an artist and instead became involved in a number of community initiatives in Brixton, the main site of the uprisings by the Black British community against state and police injustices. This experience of working in the community fed into a number of works that Donkor produced when he returned to making art at the start of the 2000s. These focused on police brutality against members of the Black British community such as Cynthia Jarrett and Cherry Groce.


Donkor also developed a number of paintings that retrieved black historical figures such as his series about the Haitian revolution. As in his works around police brutality, Donkor referenced very specific examples of  western canonical history paintings, in order to re-insert the erased black figure back into one the most recognisable canonical visual idioms. These works can be seen as not simply retrieving black historical figures, or remembering black victims of police and societal brutality but also an act of actively differencing the art historical canon.


In recent years Donkor’s work has explored what the next stage of visual resistance against black oppression might be. His series ‘Idyl’ might be understood through the concept of Black joy and his new series ‘Helix’ might be understood through ideas recently articulated around the Black fantastic. Donkor’s work has been exhibited in group exhibitions such as ‘Thinking Historically in the Present’, Sharjah Biennial 15 (Sharjah, 2023); ‘War Inna Babylon: The Community's Struggle for Truth and Rights', ICA (London, 2021); ’'Untitled: Art on the Conditions of Our Time', Kettle's Yard (Cambridge, 2021) and New Art Exchange (Nottingham, 2017), Diaspora Pavilion: Venice to Wolverhampton, 57th Venice Biennale (Venice, 2017) and 29th Sao Paulo Biennial (Brazil, 2010).