b. 1984, Nairobi
Lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya
As an artist, Cyrus Kabiru actively pushes the boundaries of conventional craftsmanship, sculpture, fashion, design, art and photography. Kabiru creates intricate sculptural works from found materials. He is best known for his collection of eyewear titled C-Stunners, and self-portrait photographs wearing his creations. Kabiru’s practice has expanded in recent years to include larger sculptures, installations and documentary films.
A contemporary flâneur, Kabiru’s sculptures find their conceptual origins from the diverse urban spaces that Kabiru observes and traverses, both at home in Kenya and during his international travels. These intricate assemblages are fashioned from urban debris and obsolete technology, that has been carefully selected and imaginatively re-contextualised.
Engaging with the aesthetic and attitude of Afrofuturism, Kabiru’s practice challenges the effects of modernisation, and explode limitations on the imagination of the future in ways that hold performative and transformative potential.
Cyrus Kabiru was born in 1984 in Nairobi, Kenya, where he still lives and works. He has exhibited frequently both internationally and on the African continent. Notable solo exhibitions include: Upcoming in 2010 at the Kuona Trust in Nairobi, Kenya; Cyrus Kabiru at the Kunstpodium T Gallery in Tilburg, Netherlands in 2011 and C-Stunners & Black Mamba at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town in 2015. Kabiru’s work is inlcuded in prominent collections such as the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa Permanent Collection, Cape Town, South Africa, the Saatchi & Abel Collection and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, USA.
He was recently selected as one of Quartz’s Africa Innovators for 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2013, he was a fellow at TED’s The Young, The Gifted, The Undiscovered in the USA. That same year, Kabiru also exhibited at the Lagos Photo Festival in Nigeria and his work formed part of Afrofuture: Adventure with Makers, Thinkers and Dreamers at the Milan Design Week in Italy, as well as in The Shadows Took Shape at The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, USA. Kabiru‘s work was included in the seminal travelling exhibition Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design, curated by Amelie Klein with Okwui Enwezor, first shown at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany in 2015, and later at The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and then at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB) in Spain during 2016. The exhibition was most recently shown at the Kunsthal Rotterdam, Netherlands. Kabiru featured in AFRICA – Architecture & Identity at the Louisiana Museum in Humlebæk, Denmark and Beyond Borders, the 5th edition of the Beaufort Triennial in West Flanders, Belgium, both in 2015.
Important group exhibitions include Concealed: Selections from the Permanent Collection at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, USA; Towards Intersections: Negotiating Subjects, Objects and Contexts at the University of South Africa Art Gallery in Pretoria, South Africa and Lumières d’Afriques, organised by the AAD Fund, at the Théâtre National de Chaillot in Paris, France during 2015.
In 2016, Kabiru was the resident artist at the Han Nefkens Foundation in Barcelona, Spain, where he was also the first artist to participate in the Flow Series talks programme – a joint initiative of the Han Nefkens Foundation and the Antoni Tàpies Foundation. Also in 2016 Kabiru was selected as a featured artist for The ARMORY Show’s Focus Section, African Perspectives, curated by Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba, in New York, USA. His work featured in Brutal Beauty: Violence and Contemporary Design at the MARTA Herford Museum of Contemporary Art in Herford, Germany; Unorthodox, curated by Jens Hoffmann, at The Jewish Museum in New York, USA; and the Climactic: Post Normal Design exhibition at The Carnegie Mellon University School of Design in Pittsburgh, USA.
Cyrus Kabiru is featured in the Gestalten publication titled Africa Rising: Fashion, Design and Lifestyle from Africa. In addition, he has been included in the international travelling exhibition, Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design, curated by Amelie Klein with Okwui Enwezor, recently held at the Kunsthal Rotterdam, Netherlands and set to open next at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, USA (15 October 2017 – 07 January 2018). Kabiru is currently preparing for an upcoming solo exhibition at SMAC Gallery in Johannesburg to open in June 2017.