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Biography

Samson Kambalu was born in 1975 in Malawi. He lives and works in Oxford where he is an Associate Professor of Fine Art and a lifelong fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford University. Kambalu’s often irreverent fusion of social, national and artistic tropes and identities is intentionally mischievous and provocative. His aim is to skew our reading of cultural behaviour and customs and to seek out the areas where humanity meets. The artist grounds his multi-media practice in Nyau culture – a secret society of the Chewa tribe, Malawi, which is especially known for its ritual mask performances. Kambalu’s ‘Nyau Cinema’ is characterised by spontaneity, playfulness and a non linear approach to time.

 

Kambalu’s proposal for the Fourth Plinth Commission, Antelope, was unveiled in Trafalgar Square in September 2022. In 2021, Kambalu’s largest solo exhibition, New Liberia, was at Modern Art Oxford, and The Southbank Centre presented Samson Kambalu: Black Jack, an outdoor presentation of remixed flags on Mandela Walk. Kambalu’s novel The Jive Talker: Or How to Get a British Passport was first published in 2008 and republished in 2022.

 

Kambalu featured in All the World’s Futures, the 56th Venice Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor. His work has been included in numerous international exhibitions and projects including The Athens Biennale (2021); Dakar Biennial (2014, 2016); Tokyo International Art Festival (2009) and Liverpool Biennial (2004, 2016). He has had solo exhibitions at Culturgest, Lisbon, Portugal (2021); Modern Art Oxford (2021); PEER Gallery, London, UK (2020); Mu.ZEE, Ostend, Belgium (2020); Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2016); Logan Centre, Chicago, U.S.A (2016); NSU Art Museum, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, U.S.A (2016); Kunsthalle Mainz, Germany (2016).

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