Show at­tracts many Kenyans who are learn­ing to love art

Business Daily (Kenya) - - LIFE - Mar­garetta wa Gacheru ex­plains

Kenyan artists and gal­lerists have been wait­ing to ex­hale for weeks, fol­low­ing a pro­longed elec­tion pe­riod.

The three ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tions that took place last week with one run­ning into the new year, at­tracted a num­ber of buy­ers and new artists.

One was for the Kenya Mu­seum So­ci­ety (KMS), an­other for the Kenya Arts Di­ary (KAD) and the third for the Trust for Indige­nous Cul­ture and Health (TICAH).

Marla Stone, the art fair co-or­di­na­tor said turnout to the ‘Af­ford­able Art Show’ by KMS that opened last Fri­day at the mu­seum court­yard was the high­est ever since the ex­hi­bi­tion started in 1996.

Sales also went very well, added KMS chair­per­son Pat Jentz.

“So far we have made more than Sh3 mil­lion, 70 per cent of which will go to the artists. The rest will go to­wards our con­struc­tion of a Na­tional Taxi­dermy Lab­o­ra­tory at the mu­seum,” she said, adding that more than 38 per cent of the 324 art­works were sold. She was cal­cu­lat­ing as peo­ple were still ar­riv­ing to shop for art­works that were be­ing sold for be­tween Sh4,000 to Sh95,000.

This was no sur­prise as Kenyan art scene is thriv­ing. The show has been pop­u­lar with young artists hop­ing to ex­hibit and sell their works. One rea­son this year’s show was im­pres­sive is the way it was cu­rated. A com­bi­na­tion of mu­seum staff and vol­un­teers took charge of spe­cific wall and panel space, group­ing the art ac­cord­ing to emerg­ing themes, such as mu­sic, por­trai­ture, mo­bil­ity, wildlife, land­scapes, sculp­ture and a few still-life paint­ings.

There were also fewer es­tab­lished artists ex­hibit­ing this year. The known ones in­cluded Adrian Nduma, Pa­trick Kin­uthia, Alex Wainaina and Dinesh Re­vankar.

There were many ex­hibitors who were un­der 30 years and rel­a­tively un­known. But quite a few com­bined tech­ni­cal skills with imag­i­na­tion and in­no­va­tion (like fram­ing their paint­ings with rub­ber tyres!).

An­other ex­hi­bi­tion that opened (without fan­fare) at the mu­seum a few days be­fore KMS’ was for the Kenya Arts Di­ary 2018.

The new di­ary was launched last Satur­day with sup­port from the Hein­rich Boell Foun­da­tion. This was the first time the di­ary launch com­bined with an ex­hi­bi­tion cu­rated by the mu­seum.

It was a way of ben­e­fit­ing both the ex­hibit­ing artists (since their art was on sale) and the di­ary which was more ef­fec­tively pro­moted than in pre­vi­ous years.

Fi­nally, prepa­ra­tions were un­der­way all this past week at the mu­seum for last night’s (Novem­ber 9) launch of the mul­ti­fac­eted vis­ual and per­form­ing arts show­case or­gan­ised by TICAH (Trust for Indige­nous Cul­ture and Health).

It fea­tures two pro­grammes in one: The ‘Uremba’ ex­hi­bi­tion is high­light­ing the beauty of indige­nous and con­tem­po­rary art and cul­ture.

Cu­rated by Eric Manya and Mary Ogembo, the show will fea­ture both con­tem­po­rary artists (both ‘vet­er­ans’ and up-and­com­ers) as well as indige­nous ar­ti­facts (mostly on loan from the mu­seum).

The ‘Hekima’ (wis­dom) ac­tiv­i­ties will be co-or­di­nated by Aghan Odero, for­mer man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Kenya Cul­tural Cen­tre. Their de­sign will be to demon­strate the depth and di­ver­sity of indige­nous cul­tures, in­clud­ing di­men­sions of sci­en­tific and his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge em­bed­ded in tra­di­tion.

TICAH’S pro­gramme will run through Jan­uary 2018 and fea­ture films, work­shops, talks by both artists and el­ders, mu­sic and sto­ry­telling.


MAASAI COWS Stephen Lobalu’s art­work sold for Sh50,000.

CHRIST­MAS STORY by Ge­of­frey Mugwe Kar­iuki’ was sold for Sh40,000.

SLUM 1 & 2 art­work by Kennedy Kinyua sold for Sh35,000.

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