Nairobi is about to experience a bonanza of visual arts, thanks to several upcoming events, including the East African Art Auction on November 3rd and the Kenya Art Fair from November 6th-9th at the Sarit Centre. But this is not to say that the city has been devoid of exciting visual arts events in recent times.
In the last fortnight alone, we saw the launch of the new Kenya Arts Dairy for 2015 which is both a year-long calendar and the only contemporary catalogue that features nearly 70 up and coming Kenyan visual artists along with several more seasoned ones.
The launch of the fifth Arts Diary was held at the Heinrich Boell Foundation and now it’s on sale between Sh1,500 and Sh1,600 in bookshops and art centres all over town. Then came to Kenya Museum Society (KMS) Affordable Art Show which attracted around 230 Kenyan artists who agreed to price their work at less than Sh100,000 with many of the pieces priced at much less than that.
The KMS took a commission on all the works sold in order to raise funds for the projects they run on behalf of the museum.
Meanwhile, at Village Market Adrian Nduma had an exceptional exhibition entitled ‘Wild and Colourful’ which combined two of his favourite genre, namely portraiture of Kenyan wildlife and his abstract expressionist style.
And just this past Sunday at One Off Gallery, the premiere exhibition of Naomi van Rampelberg’s stunning mixed media collage art opened.
Paints on pendants
Having a wonderful fine arts pedigree, with a brilliant sculptor mother like Chelenge and a master furniture designer like Marc for a father, it was hardly a surprise to see Naomi coming up with her own unique style of artistry. She paints on pendants and all sizes and shapes of glass; but her most impressive work involves recycling high quality paper, the sort that’s used in wall paper catalogues.
Her magic is in the slicing and situating the paper into evocative abstract images, occasionally adding gold leaf-like colour or finely drawn cellular shapes to create effects that are haunting.
But what’s coming this weekend, starting Saturday and running all through next week are two major fine arts events, both of which are major milestones for the Kenyan and East African arts scene.
The second Circle Art Agency East African Art Auction will officially be held on Monday, November 3rd at the Villa Rosa Kempinski Hotel. It’s an exclusive event open only to art lovers who are serious about bidding on and buying the paintings and sculptures in the auction.
Fortunately, the public will have an opportunity to check out all of the art pieces over this coming weekend from Saturday, November 1st through mid-day November 3rd.
It will be well worth seeing what Danda Jaroljmek has collected from all around the East African region and curated with the support of her Circle Arts team.
Finally, the Kenya Art Fair at Sarit Centre organised by Kuona Trust from November 6th through 9th is bound to be an eye-opening arts event that will offer enlightenment about the current Kenyan visual arts scene to anyone interested.
Sponsored by Nation Media Group, I&M Bank, Textbook Centre, Sarit Centre, German Embassy, Goethe Institut and the Heinrich Boell Foundation, the Art Fair will feature most of the major art centres, art schools, independent artists and galleries in town, all of whom will display artworks by some of the finest artists that they represent.
Among the art centres that will showcase art by some of Kenya’s most cutting edge contemporary artists are One Off Gallery, Circle Art Agency Ltd., the Little Art Gallery, Nairobi National Museum, GoDown Art Centre, PAWA 254 and of course, Kuona Trust which will also mount a Wasanii Exhibition to expose artworks by both well- known and so-called ‘emerging’ artists.
Among the independent artists to be included are Joseph Bertiers, Patrick Mukabi, Tabitha wa Thuku, Maggie Otieno of Art Touch Ltd, Mali ya Mali and the Wajukuu Art Project. The art fair has also been running a Cartoon Competition the winner of which will be announced on the opening night of the Art Fair.
Finally, among the most enlightening aspects of the fair will be the series of seminars and panels that will be held every day at Sarit Centre.
It will feature local artists, arts administrators and patrons/art collectors as well. Kuona Trust hopes to see their Art Fair inaugurating a tradition making the Art Fair a highly anticipated annual event.