China Loves Africa: Michael Soi’s Satirical Paintings

photo-5In an 18-piece series titled “China Loves Africa” Kenyan artist Michael W. Soi explores the contentious China-Africa partnership in his satirical paintings; a view that places China as the continent’s neo-colonial master. In what seems like an interrogation of this relationship, mostly of China’s intent, the artist’s paintings are loaded with profound messaging, a seductive nature that uncovers the exploitative nature of China’s partnership with Africa. Informed by his observation, his work views the relationship as a “love affair” profiting one side. “China is hungry for raw materials from Africa. Africa is poor and desperate. African leaders are seeking trade partners who will not ask questions; so in essence, China is African’s sugar daddy”, he explicates.


Stinging satires on Chinese politics in Africa, the social implications of this relationship are also spotlighted through his work. Generally, Soi describes most of his art as ‘social commentary’ describing how his work is inspired by the city of Nairobi. Soi interprets his work as a medium spotlighting subject matters that are veiled by society, and he further explains, “Apart from China I do work that revolves around commercial sex work and interracial relationships in the Kenyan coast. I address issues that affect the average Kenyan on a day to level.”

Michael Soi was born in Nairobi, where he currently resides and works. He is a member of what is termed as the second generation of Kenyan artists that emerged through kuona in the late 90’s. He begun his career as a sculptor and subsequently refined his own visual and artistic vocabulary over the years.

For more on Michael Soi and his work, visit his Facebook page.

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