Onyis Martin | Kenya

“Every artist needs something that pushes them or a story they are trying to tell”


Onyis Martin was born in 1987 in Kisumu, Kenya but currently lives and works in Nairobi.

Martin is deeply connected to contemporary urban society, his paintings, sculptures, and works on paper explore, portray and reflect on current issues affecting not only the African continent but the world as a whole. Delving into global concerns such as human trafficking, migration, political and institutional corruption, repressive environments, and displacement, Martin’s works also explore issues of freedom, communication, rapidly evolving technological information, and consumerism.

Martin’s approach to and investigation of the themes central to his practice is a complex and articulated process, often using his private experience as a departure point. The interweaving individual with collective experiences of human displacement and migration, through his work he questions our understanding and engagement with human trafficking and its catastrophic consequences, reflecting on the often intimate, personal reasons why people migrate.

Linked by questioning and exploring several concepts and issues at any one time, Martin’s work is often presented as an interconnected series.

Fascinated by the visual power of the contemporary urban wall, with its eclectic collage of mainstream advertising and superimposed underground street imagery, in these works Martin reflects on branding and visual communication, focusing on the constant manipulation and destruction of language that individuals operate.

Onyis Martin currently works with kids in Mathare and Kibera slums in Nairobi, teaching art and crafts as part of giving back to the community.


Selected solo exhibitions:
Tomorrow/Today, curated by Tomelo Mosaka, Cape Town Art Fair, South Africa

Graduation, Talisman, Nairobi, Kenya

Selected group exhibitions:

Critical Conversations, Goethe Institut & Alliance Française, Nairobi, Kenya

Art Against Human Trafficking, British Institute, Nairobi, Kenya

error:X, Ostrale, Dresden, Germany

L’Atelier, National Museum of Art, Nairobi, Kenya

Manjano – Nairobi County Visual Arts Exhibition, Village Market, Nairobi, Kenya

Misty Fields, The Netherlands


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