Vibrant Visual Art scene in Nairobi

I havent been a consistent blogger, which may explain why i have no followers of my blog. but i mean to change, so here is a story i wrote for Nairobi’ Sunday Nation. i have so many images to share. let’s see if i can get any here…..This Butterfly is by David Mwaura and it’s on display at Sanaa Mbele at Wakanyote’s place in Muchatha, Kenya.
in Sunday Nation , April 29, 2011
by margaretta wa gacheru
Nairobi is veritably throbbing with vibrant visual art on display all over the city. Much of it will come down at April’s end.
That means now is the time to go to old and new venues to check out exhibitions by “Veteran Artists” at Alliance Francaise, young artists at the new Sanaa Mbele Gallery in Muchatha, and solo shows by Adrian Nduma at the Nairobi National Museum, David Maiden at the Talisman, Chilonga Haji at Banana Hill Art Gallery and Peter Oendo Kenyanyi at Village Market.
The Veteran artists’ exhibition is part of the African Heritage 40thanniversary celebration and features elder state-men and -woman of East African art. They include Francis Nnaggenda, Elkana Ong’esa, John Odoch Ameny, Expedito Mwebe and Magdalene Odundo, all of whose art work was greatly admired by the late co-founder of the Pan African Gallery, Kenya’s first Foreign Minister, the late Joseph Murumbi.
In contrast, the new Sanaa Mbele weekend show features the art of new-comers to the Kenyan art scene such as Wangari Mwagiru, , David Mwaura, Jim Peter Kiarie and Owino Wakanyote. It also showcases more seasoned artists from the Muchata neighborhood (including Ngecha and Banana Hill), such as Shade Kamau, Martin Kamuyu, Martin Muhoro, Willie Wamuti, Samuel Njuguna, Jeff Wambugu, George Ngaruiya, Ken Artifact, Peter Kibunja, Julius Kimemia, Anne Turugah and Wakanyote Njuguna who also hatched the idea of setting up Sanaa Mbele a year ago.

                                              Red and Black by Tanzanian artist Chilonga Haji
                                                           at Banana Hill Art Gallery

The diversity of the solo shows about to shut down is also impressive. The British painter David Maiden focuses on portraiture at Talisman. Meanwhile, paintings by the abstract colorist Adrian Ndume practically explode with shimmering rainbow hues at the Nairobi Museum’s Creativity Gallery.
Likewise, the Tanzanian impressionist painter Chilonga Haji also revels in brilliant and bright colors, only his artwork explores more indigenous social scenes. And  Kisii stone sculptor Peter Kenyanya assembled a variety of stones from all eight provinces in order to shape an exhibition including stone sculptures made from basalt, granite, quartz and soap stone among other worthy rocks.
Meanwhile, there are brand new exhibitions as well as new gallery spaces that have recently opened up.
At OneOff Gallery, an exhibition of paintings by the award-winning Samuel Githui opens today (April 29) in Rosyln. And at Village Market, just as Kenyanyi’s show closes, an exhibition by artists from the Bobea Art Centre in Donholm, including Pascal Chuma, is opening.
The newest gallery space to open in Nairobi is at Kenya Railways which was opened last Tuesday night by veteran sculptor Elkana Ong’esa.

                                            Wangari Mwagiru’s ‘Cityscape’ at Sanaa Mbele

The other new gallery space is out at Kitengela Glass where the former director of UNEP, Klaus Toepfer opened the Mechthild Gallery a month ago. It’s been built right above Nani Croze’s glass workshop and looks out on the beautiful Siloe Sanctuary which is part of the Kiserian Gorge.
Currently featuring mostly sculptures and paintings by Nani herself, in the next month the Mechthild will host artworks previously seen in Lonrho House at Gallery Watatu.
Watatu has been in limbo since the demise of its owner Adama Diawara, spouse to the late Ruth Schaffner. It’s an unfortunate affair complicated by family squabbles, but Diawara’s partner, Osei Kofi has decided to shift from Lonrho to Kitengela for a time. After that, Gallery Watatu is moving out to the edge of Karura Forest to a beautiful new site.
Finally, at the Michael Joseph Centre, a brand new group exhibition entitled Zebra in Red Heels opened late last week, the brain child of environmental artist Dominique Thoemes. Also featured in the show is Kathy Katuti, Joseph Bertiers Mbatia, Andrew McNaughton, Dennis Muraguri and Thoemes as well.

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