‘UNSELLABLE’ ART AT NATIONAL MUSEUM AN OXYMORON

SO-CALLED ‘UNSELLABLE ART’ AT MUSEUM QUITE SALABLE By margaretta wa gacheru. Published may 31, 2013 Business Daily Tabitha’s rescue missionMounting a group exhibition at Nairobi National Museum and calling it ‘Unsellable Art’ seems like a contradiction or an oxymoron. When an artist or in this case the Kenya Visual Artists Network assembles an exhibition of art, the objective is normally to expose the art to the public and ideally inspire a few of them to actually buy the work. But if you put up a show and describe your art as ‘unsellable’, one would assume you either don’t expect the artworks will sell which could easily deter potential patrons from even bothering to come, or you are being ironic and hope to stimulate the public’s curiosity. I went for curiosity’s sake and found quite a few paintings and sculpture that was quite interesting; but I still feel the title of the show is unfortunate, imprecise and also a bit pretentious. The blurb on the entrance of the Museum’s Creativity Gallery claims the art on show is widely seen as ‘unsellable’ [sic] because it is political rather than pretty, and most buyers want ‘pretty’ paintings. But there were quite a few non-political paintings in the show (e.g. by Boniface Maina and Pascal Chuma), while quite a few were visually appealing (e.g.Tabitha wa Thuku’s Rescue Mission and the two by Anne Mwiti) and several were thought provoking (e.g. Oliver Okoth’s Who Do You Believe and Moses Nyawanda’s The Occult) though not necessarily political. So while the title of this show seems like a misnomer, the content is substantial and quite saleable! Plus it’s a good first public initiative of the Kenya Visual Artists Network since its election of officials. And I hope it won’t be the last. Among other artists in the show are Martin Onyis, Michael Musyoka and Victor Mutali Meanwhile, this coming Sunday, the Red Hill Gallery will open a Retrospective Exhibition of Justus Kyalo’s Art. This past weekend, OneOff Gallery opened a fascination show of paintings by Anthony Okello;Mbuthia Maina’s and Andrew Njoroge’s Collaborative Art is still at Kuona Trust, and Alliance Francaise hosts a ‘Nyrobi in Pictures’ exhibition from June 5th.

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