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“As an artist I want to experience life in its fullest, and that’s to say I want to do art, because art really exists beyond the narrow views of life. If you have a narrow view of life it’s difficult to make art, so to embrace art is to affirm the mysteries of life.” -Samson Kambalu



Samson Kambalu is an artist and writer working in a variety of media, including site-specific installation, video, performance and literature. His work is autobiographical and approaches art as an arena for critical thought and sovereign activities. Born in Malawi Kambalu’s work fuses aspects of the Nyau gift-giving culture of the Chewa, the anti-reification theories of the Situationist movement and the Protestant tradition of inquiry, criticism and dissent.


Kambalu’s first book, an autobiographical novel of his childhood upbringing in Africa, The Jive Talker, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2008 and toured around Europe for four years. He has been featured in major exhibitions and projects worldwide, including the Dakar Biennale (2014, 2016), Tokyo International Art Festival (2009) and the Liverpool Biennial (2004, 2016). He was included in All the World’s Futures, Venice Biennale 2015, curated by Okwui Enwezor.


Photos by @filmluar

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Still from Exercise Yard, 2017 by Samson Kambalu, image courtesy of Goodman Gallery

"We are here to play.”

-Samson Kambalu

Samson Kambalu studied at the University of Malawi (BA Fine Art and Ethnomusicology); Nottingham Trent University (MA Fine Art) and Chelsea College of Art and Design (PhD Fine Art). Kambalu, who began his academic career at the University of Malawi, has won research fellowships with Yale University and the Smithsonian Institution, and he has recently been appointed associate professor of Fine Art at Ruskin School of Art, a fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford University.

Find out more on his website


From Nyasaland Analysand, 2019 exhibition of Samson Kambalu's work at Goodman Gallery

Johannesburg, image courtesy of Goodman Gallery

The Artist Who Redefined Time- Samson Kambalu (P5)
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The Artist Who Redefined Time- Samson Kambalu

Get ready to flex your brain muscles in this portrait of internationally renowned Malawian artist and professional time-waster, Samson Kambalu. Learn how thinking of gift-giving, masks and play can make art a way of life as he gives an insight into the philosophical theories that feed his versatile body of work, from site-specific installation to video, performance and literature. 

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