Onyis Martin (b.1987, Kisumu-Kenya) has been living in Nairobi, Kenya since he was six. Not willing to pursue further art studies at university where they are not well funded in Kenya, he applied instead for apprenticeship after High School, in the city’s thriving art collectives: first at the Go Down Art Centre (2013), followed by the Kuona Trust (2015), and the Kobo Trust where he presently has his studio.
Martin’s practice is both political, and much centred around painting. He is interested in
deconstructing the contemporary Kenya’s structures of power, political, religious, economic, and
cultural. In his paintings he has been particularly exploring the visual currency of the city of Nairobi, examining the contradictions and corruptions derived from the interlaying of its formal and informal economies and activities.
Onyis Martin’s focus on urban issues led him to attend international art residencies that center on
the urban global South, such as: the MATZA Edgelands Residency (Bodega Confama Institute) in
Medellin, Colombia (2022), The bag Factory residency in Johannesburg, South Africa (2017), and Asiko Art School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2016).
He has exhibited extensively in private galleries in Kenya, including the Circle, Redhill
and Artlab galleries. Awards include the First Merit Award by Barclays L’Atelier
organised by the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (2016). His
work was included among other institutions at: Zeitz Museum, Cape Town (South
Africa); Maxxi Museum, Roma (Italy); Kerry Parker Civic Gallery, Adelaide (Australia).