Kenyan Artist Sold Painting for Ksh150 Million

  • Kenyan artist Michael Armitage standing next to one of his paintings
    Kenyan artist Michael Armitage standing next to one of his paintings (Courtesy/
  • For over 10 years now, Kenyan-born painter has been experiencing a rapid rise in the world of lush paintings and gallery shows on both European and African continents.

    According to a report by Telegraph UK, the artist, Michael Armitage, after graduating from the prestigious Royal Academy Schools, was picked up for representation by White Cube gallery, one of the leading galleries in UK.

    In 2019, one of Armitage's paintings known as The Conservationists sold for over Ksh150 million at the Sotheby’s.

    Born in 1984 in Nairobi, the artist's journey in the art world really took off after he graduated with a Bachelor of Art from the Slade School of Art in 2007.

    One of the paintings by Michael Armitage.
    One of the paintings by Michael Armitage

    Armitage then proceeded enrolled for a Masters of Art at the Royal Academy and graduated in 2010.

    After his graduation, he immersed himself into creating his own collection and the Telegraph described him as creating 'seductively coloured, dreamlike scenes, often set against lush, tropical backdrops. '

    In a previous interview, he revealed that he relied heavily on his childhood experiences and at times depicted scenes of plane crashes and acts of violence that he experienced as a young boy.

    Speaking to Freize, He revealed that his childhood was tough and that he did not always envision becoming a painter in his adult life.

    "No. Art was always my thing – I started drawing at the age of six or seven – but I didn’t know that it was something people did, because I wasn’t from a family where there was art or artists around," he noted.

    He further explained that the pivotal moment in his life came while he was aged nine years and encountered a masterpiece at a friend's house, identified as Gichugu, in Nairobi.

    "We sometimes get lucky with the people we meet: my luck was to be friends with Rik van Rampelberg, whose mother, Chelenge, is Kenya’s best-known sculptor. Her husband, Marc, is a designer and, together, they have one of the most significant collections of East African art.

    "In the early 1990s, he helped Gichugu put on his first exhibition at Gallery Watatu in Nairobi. Gichugu made something like 110 paintings in a single month before that show – an epic output of extraordinary work," he added.

    To date, Armitage has made some revolutionary paintings including Kenyan Election Series which was inspired by the disputed elections that shook the country in 2017.

    His journey has, however, not always been easy as he notes that after graduating with the MA, he was afraid to show anyone any of his paintings he had made before 2015.

    The fourth Estate Painting by Michael Armitage (
    The fourth Estate Painting by Michael Armitage (Source:
    violence crash