‘The magic of Elimo’s mountains in art’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2011/feb/08/mountains-leonardo-giambologna-art. In the Guardian today, February 8, 2011, Jonathan Jones writes about the magic of mountains in art and refers to painters like Leonardo di Vinci, who of course, is a spectacular painter. But i get fed up with the fact that Western writers on art rarely examine the wonderful work of East African artists. The above painting is just one mountain scene painted by elimo njau for his five Murang’a murals, which he completed back in 1958. Rarely if ever referred to in African Art books, leave alone Western art books, the murals are Elimo’s enduring legacy, despite their having been discredited by Ngugi wa Thiong’o for having been painted under the patronage of British colonials who meant for the murals to commemorate what Ngugi and the Mau Mau would call ‘home guards’ who died during the Mau Mau war of independence vs. British colonialism. The murals have been neglected for decades either because of no art appreciation or because they were seen as art painted by a traitor to the kenyan people. But the latter assessment is too simplistic and the murals have immense merit, not the least of which for their mountain magic. This Baptism scene [that’s an African looking Jesus being baptized by another African John the Baptist] is only one of the five murals that has portraits of Mt Kenya. I’ll share more in blogs to come.


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