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Why Nairobi has become mecca of Kenyan public art

Bank Slave’s Graffiti portrait of  Lupita
Bank Slave’s Graffiti portrait of Lupita Nyong’o on outside wall of The Godown art centre. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU 

Visual artists are ever in a quandary over where to exhibit their art.

Either their work requires more space than some Nairobi galleries and art centres have available or the price of renting exhibition space is more than artists can afford. Some proprietors are also slow in providing payment to artists after their artworks are sold.

However, many ingenious Kenyan artists have found ways around these roadblocks. Quite a few display their art on Facebook (like Michael Soi, Mbuthia Maina and many others), while some establish their own websites or open up galleries of their own. (For instance, this past weekend, Adrian Nduma invited the public to his Bonzo Gallery on Ngong Road.)

Meanwhile, others have chosen to go the route of public art, creating large scale sculptures and murals all over town. The most conspicuous works may be the city centre sculptures of Dedan Kimathi (made by Kevin Oduor with support from Kenyatta University’s Art Department) and Tom Mboya (sculpted by Kisumu-based artist Oshoto Ondula).