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Safina Kimbokota

“Art is a visual language, I’m just perfecting my language through it”

Safina Kimbokota is a permanent artist in residence at the Department of Creative Arts at the University of Dar-es-salaam and also has a studio at Nafasi Art Space. She is a contemporary sculptress; she does metal sculptures that she skillfully mixed with fabric along with painting.

Her figurines highlight social pressure facing young women in Africa thereby encouraging campaigns against harmful skin bleaching cosmetics and healthcare rights within her community and Africa at large. Social media and fashion trends reflecting issues related to body image and self-esteem inspired her artwork. Safina also incorporates recycled materials in her artworks to bring awareness on environmental pollution. Her mixed media sculptures are made of recycled materials such as metal scraps, plastic and African fabric, that she collects from either scrap warehouses or African fabric used as waste collected from the dressmakers’ shops. After welding she stitched and wove the figure with the popular Swahili fabric ‘Kitenge’ transforming it into a graceful black African woman.

She has been working on a series of about 20 pieces of artworks concerning skin bleaching while she continues to highlight more issues women face through her artworks. She looks at how beauty is often associated with being white in comparison to the ideal beauty of African women. “Many African women don’t appreciate their natural beauty and they spend a lot of their money trying to look like white women.”

Critique from the Gallery

Safina Kambokota’s work possesses a kind of narrative sensibility, that of which resembles the aesthetic approach of the Art Deco movement. With her representation of her subjects being rather decorative/ornamental in nature as derived from her application of rich colors, geometric shapes, exuberant detail work and closed composition used to depict female representation in African culture through their appearance and the domestic duties they must fulfill. That is often likened to the works of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. With a slight variation in how she crafts her work, opting to paste photographed figures or objects in fanciful painted backdrops, that makes for a dazzling collage-like composition which boldly delivers its message.

Selected Works

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