HADITHI, HADITHI, HADITHI NJOO ART EXHIBITION BY GLORIA MUTHOKA.

IMG_20180915_162909The first thing that came to mind when I saw the exhibition’s title was my childhood experience. Growing up, in a typical African setting, storytelling sessions were part of our culture. Every story started with the words, hadithi , hadithi and the respondents would answer hadithi njoo. And so was the title for Gloria Muthoka’s first solo art exhibition at the Alliance Francaise. The exhibition took place from September 6th-23rd,.  I couldn’t miss it for the world so I immediately RSVP’d and there was no way I would change my mind for something else when the day came.

Alliance Francaise was my destination after work but first things first, I had to get some company for the event, so naturally, a close friend agreed to visit the exhibition together. After a quick walk to Alliance Francaise while catching up, the first thing to notice was a breathtaking spread of art works by Gloria Muthoka on every wall in the entrance hall. Slowly, I was awed by every piece, each piece displayed with its own narrative. From stories of “How ostrich got a long neck, A woman and the poisonous pumpkin, Why Hyenas limp, Tortoise and Hare to Monkey Heart.

Ever heard of Wanakhatandi’s story? The man who had many daughters but had no sons which in the Bukusu society was not a happy idea to have many females domineering in a family… well this was one among the many African stories I came hear about in the exhibition. The story of the Legend Luanda Magere was also displayed highlighting the connection between his human form, his shadow and his death where he turned into stone.

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One could not help but admire and sometimes laugh at the stories. I was mesmerized by the way the works of art blended on; each piece had a unique sequence of drawing. In my opinion, I would have loved to see some of the patterns being used on print fabric. Acrylic on canvas was Gloria’s style of medium in every piece presented at the exhibition and the price range was fair enough.

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Gloria Muthoka is a Kenyan visual Artist based at the Godown Arts . For more of the works visit Art by G-Muthoka on Facebook

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ART AND LIVING SPACE

ART AND LIVING SPACE (Rinjearts.com)

 

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It has been a while since I took pen to paper, don’t get me wrong it’s not like I’m all dried up and out of ideas, it’s only the hassle of finding the perfect balance between work and time to write, well the burnout is real.

Recently, a colleague approached me with an interesting question, interesting only because it focused on art which is an interest of mine and was well aware of it. Anyway, long story short, she needed art pieces for her house, in particular for one of those naked, bare lonely walls in some homes, so she asked my advice on where to acquire art pieces apart from Art Galleries.

This was not one of those mind-boggling conundrums, the only hard part was figuring out which local artist, from my contact list would get the honor. Nowadays, all it takes is a phone call, a text (through WhatsApp, IMO etc.) and receive various captivating portfolios from a sample of local artists.

It’s shockingly amazing how many people want to spice up those bare walls in their homes with amazing art pieces but are afraid to experiment different forms of art, well good news guys, you really don’t have to be an art guru or critic to dive into your creative side and get some great art pieces to spice up those walls.

The living room is preferably the ideal place where you unwind and relax after a long stressful day at work. It’s also where you entertain your guests. The living room’s ambience should be fresh and calm, creating a serene and welcoming atmosphere. When it comes to choosing just the right art pieces to decorate your living room makes sure to pick pieces, that are neither too loud nor too soft and also make sure not to go overboard with too many paintings and artwork on the walls. Artwork that is too small will get overshadowed by the surrounding furniture and a piece that is too big will look as though it is spilling over.

 

Here is my to-do list when choosing art for your living space:

 

  • If your space is contemporary blend with a traditional art piece and vice versa.

 
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  • NEVER try to match art to the room instead contrast the art piece to enable it stand out and be a focal point of attraction.

 

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  • If you see a piece you like but the size is tricky for your living space, always ask if the artist can make a custom piece.

 

 

 

  • Buy what you love. Art should not be ‘an afterthought or by the way’. It should thrill you every day.

 

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(painting done by Lukamba Zephy)

 

  • Be open minded. Art is diverse from oil painting to sculptures to origami. Let your imagination blow your space.

 

 

  

PS: I do not own any copyrights to the pictures.

ART APPRECIATED

Art, reminds me of the Renaissance, which means “Rebirth” to the French. It was a time where creativity was the main theme set about by the likes of Michael Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci. These are famous minds and everyone has heard of them in one way or another. I see art as the individual ability to conceive and manifest an idea into reality (form). The form created, is skillfully articulated to satisfy an aesthetic or utilitarian function similar to a rally driver’s adrenaline pump when behind the wheel so is art to me. Art is the embodiment of the term “freedom of expression”, it is the manifestation of ideas, exploring and experimenting with your imagination, feelings, emotions and concepts.

There was a time a few decades ago that a semi-popular show aired on the telly. It was an art show, hosted by the gorgeous Grace Msalame, the show aired on KTN (A Kenyan television network). It was a show I would not dare to miss as it gave an in-depth view of the Kenyan art scene and being as young as I was at the time I was enthralled and captivated by the paintings, sculptures as well as the life changing accounts that the artists gave about their journey into Art. Green as I was in the field, I was hooked, admiring every piece that popped on the telly. It was there that I understood how a plain canvas came to life with just a brush stroke, a doodle or patterns coming together. Even though they say curiosity killed the cat I did not care, my curiosity intensified, I started engaging my brother on issues that intrigued me from the show, at the time access to the internet was limited, so he was the brunt of my queries. It was not enough to satisfy the curiosity, so I went hunting for books and occasionally found an artist to engage.

The show, like all good things, finally came to an end and stopped airing. I could not find any other show that shined the spotlight on the art world in Kenya for a while. “For a tree to grow, you have to nurture it”, true to the saying my interest seemed to die a little with each day that passed, until a particular day in 2013 when my rebirth happened. I woke up only to find my brother in the dining room at home, busy with a drawing book and a pencil at hand, curios, I snatched a glance over his shoulder only to find that he was making drawings of animals. I snatched the book away from him just to see what other impressive drawings he’d done in the book. Every page I flipped through was a delight to look at but the moment was cut short by our father’s entrance, we had to hide the book just to avoid another lengthy lecture.

Fast forward to a few years later, his pieces grew from simple sketches on a book to canvas and paper. Curiosity grew intense like a stoked fire, I seized every opportunity and engaged my brother on any art related topic that came up. New in sighting shows aired on the “telly”, The Daily Nation as well had a section on art where a blogger Margaretta Wa Gacheru highlighted on the different works of art (which I think she still does), this became a treasure trove of information for me. The ability for one to transform a blank surface into a form (reality) is admirable. The hours spent into creating a piece are justifiable by the end product. My idea of “what is art”, has and is still being changed and shaped every day in the field of art. Every opportunity I get I admire the works of various artists locally as well as internationally, from charcoal drawings, acrylic paintings, graffiti, murals, oil paintings, panel paintings, sculptures, among other techniques. I am an addict and art is my drug

How easy is it to kill Passion and Talent?

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I attended Public Schools in the pursuit of my education and at the time the most interactive of subjects had already been scrapped out of the syllabus, that is, art, music and home-science. This was a time when Kenyan culture was still vibrant and stood out especially with the ‘Hakuna Matata’ slogans were heard on almost every mouth of tourists in Kenya. I remember growing up, my brother was always in trouble with my mother, why was he in trouble you ask? It was often due to the constant drawings my mother found in his mandated school exercise books. The drawings were either at the back or the middle pages of the exercise books, especially his mathematics book. Every Kenyan, matter of fact, every African can relate to the fury the maternal figure can bestow upon you when it comes to distractions away from school work.

The fact that I was too young to understand why my brother could not stop drawing always perplexed me. I think we can also relate to the most commonly used statement by most parental figures that ‘Talent will take you nowhere – education is the key’, my home was no exception to this statement. Long story – short, eventually my brother got smarter in hiding his pieces and doubled down on his school work and we went ahead and completed the monotonous 8-4-4 system ,all the while I did not give art a thought.

 

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”    – Pablo Picasso

It was during my final 8-4-4 cycle that I dropped out of university, this was the most challenging and also the most inspiring time of my life. One and a half years later I was a different person with a different perspective for life. I had to find myself or risk failure and out if it I discovered a passion that burns so deep in me, art in all its forms. I was already in love with ‘bags’ and I was already up to date with the Kenyan fashion industry which was adopting the Ankara (Kitenge) fashion designs. With neither the formal education nor the experience, I made a solid decision to venture into the art industry, with instinct and my creativity being the only tools I had. I started out by making clutch bags using the Ankara fabric and later selling them around my area of residence. It was during this time that I truly came to appreciate art when I met others with whom we shared similar interests but most of all we did not let our circumstances dictate our experience.

They were a small group, made up of young, ambitious and talented youths who regularly met at a common place. Unemployment and Lack of Finances were just some of the circumstances that brought the group together and I became part of the group. We found comfort in art. We live in a society with the perception that getting a C+ in your K.C.S.E is a failure, they do not believe that one can be a success in the creative arts field. It’s the kind of society where if you are not a teacher, a doctor, or engineer then you have not made it in life. But there’s more to life than that.

Everything you see around you began as an idea in someone. My passion for art was further influenced by the art pieces that the youths from the group drew. Their art was creative, once you saw it you could feel that they pour their souls and mind into the work. I was in awe of their work, filled with adrenaline every time I saw the pieces. Interacting with them increased my knowledge in the field of art, it made me learn to appreciate homegrown talent and also made me as curious as the infamous cat who is always curious. The passion and drive moved me to start campaigning on art awareness. I decided to start simple by creating a Facebook page, since social media is a key tool in creating awareness, Rimanjerya Arts is the name of the page which is up and running. I used the page to provide a platform for the youth group to market their work.

In 2013, the Kenya Government introduced devolution after the general elections, Kenyan artists had expectations that the new county governments would set up fully fledged creative centers but that was never the case. Another blow for the youth group was that the common place where they used to meet often was taken over by the county government and converted to county government offices. These complications discouraged the youth who without the common place (‘Kibanda’) had no common place to either share and discuss or display their work in order to sell some of them. Now-a-days, only a few of the youth have held fast to their talent and dedication to the arts, the others gave in to the common notion that talent and passion alone was not enough and instead have ventured into other pursuits.

In conclusion, it is very easy to kill the passion and talent especially of the young generation. I am not criticizing the parents who have brought me up, in fact I have the out most respect for them. I only intend to bring to light the fact that parents want the best of their children sometimes the path to success cannot be the same for everyone. To everyone reading this article I would encourage you to first understand your child strengths and weaknesses before you force them into a life they themselves will come to regret. Involve them in decisions that will affect their lives and lastly even if a child fails in school it does not mean they are not smart but instead their path to success lies elsewhere.

 

I appreciate the art youth group in part for the knowledge they gave me when it comes to art. I choose to be their voice and share their work to the rest of the world. I am not an artist when it comes to painting or drawing art like they do but I have the skill to write and share about the hard work, dedication and effort they pour into their work. They too deserve recognition.

 

Is Charcoal Art Technique still in practice?

CHARCOAL ART.

One would ask, is there any other use of charcoal apart from it been a source of fuel? Well, artists’ charcoal is similar to that employed in other fields such as producing gunpowder and cooking fuel. This is a form of dry art medium made of finely ground organic materials that are held together by a binder. The dry medium can be applied to almost any surface from smooth to very coarse.

Meet Gitau Evans, a Kenyan emerging visual artist who uses this technique in his work. My interaction with his work revealed how charcoal can produce lines that are very light or intensely black while being easily removable yet vulnerable to leaving stains on paper. He uses a fixer to solidify the position to prevent erasing or rubbing off of charcoal dusts.

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He further elaborates to me the various types and uses of charcoal as an art medium highlighting that he uses charcoal sticks also referred as compressed charcoal which is shaped into a block or a stick. The intensity of the shade is determined by hardness.

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Although charcoal paintings date as far as 23,000 BC , few works of art survived in the renaissance due to charcoal particles flaking off the canvas. Today artists who use charcoal preserve their work by use of fixer (hairspray e.g Eden Hairspray, Olive hair spray) as Gitau mentions.

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Indeed old is gold.

To view more of Gitau Evans work.

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