- Patrick is probably best known for his expressionist portraits of beautiful African women, some derived from his vivid imagination, others from any number of Kenya’s 43 communities.
- But once he got commissioned by the World Agro-Forestry Centre to paint local landscapes in 2013, his impressionist visions of Kenya's natural spaces have won him many more admirers.
Patrick Kinuthia, one of Kenya’s most prolific painters, opened his new Roweinay Gallery in August with little or no fanfare.
He moved from his home studio in Migaa, Kiambu County into the upmarket Rosslyn Riviera mall.
Patrick prefers to let his paintings speak for themselves. And indeed, they have over the years when he has exhibited everywhere from the dusit2 Hotel, Village Market, Sarang Art, and Banana Hill Art Galleries to the Tribal Art Gallery, UN Recreation Centre, Little Art Gallery, and Michael Joseph Centre at Safaricom.
“It was difficult for many of my clients to find my home in Kikuyu,” says the artist.
“So I felt I needed to find a base more centrally located and easier for people to find my work,” he adds.
He has been an artist ‘on fire’ for years, painting series of subjects that range from portraits and landscapes to local market scenes and Swahili doors that he has seen in Mombasa’s Old Town.
Patrick is probably best known for his expressionist portraits of beautiful African women, some derived from his vivid imagination, others from any number of Kenya’s 43 communities.
But once he got commissioned by the World Agro-Forestry Centre to paint local landscapes in 2013, his impressionist visions of Kenya's natural spaces have won him many more admirers.
Having a gallery means he is now able to exhibit his latest works as well as some early ones. That includes remnants of series such as his ‘Gabbra man’, (from his indigenous people phase), his Wangigi Market, (from his ‘African Mark’ which was so well received that he decided to replicate several of them, only now as miniature works.
“I’m also showing works by two local artists, Kennedy Kinyua and Njeri Kinuthia, my student,” he says.
“I am open to the idea of exhibiting other artists’ works. I plan to give at least one wall [near the gallery entrance] to display other artists,” he adds.
Patrick intends to run artists’ workshops in the gallery which got its name, roweinay, from the Kikuyu word meaning river.
“The Ruaka River is just behind us,” says the man who has painted many Kenyan rivers, streams, and lakes. Two of them, Lakes Naivasha and Nakuru, are on display in the gallery right now.
Patrick has always been an independent spirit. He has also been keen on art from his youth. He grew up with a father who loved the arts that he founded his own mobile cinema company and showed films all over Eastlands estates and beyond.
But Patrick’s dad also appreciated the visual arts so much that he hired a professional artist from Pakistan named Rafiq Mohammed to paint advertising posters and murals promoting his Citizen Cinema Company.
Nonetheless, Patrick’s father originally wanted his son to study accounting, which he did briefly. But once he made clear to his dad that accounts were not for him, Patrick went to work with his elder, painting under the tutelage of Rafiq.
“Rafiq was a meticulous portrait artist who also painted beautiful landscapes,” recalls Patrick.
“My father once commissioned him to paint all the African leaders of that time,” he adds, noting that he and Rafiq painted ‘poster art’ of everyone from Chuck Norris and Sylvester Stallone to sundry Chinese karate stars. But after four years of apprenticing with the Pakistani, Patrick went to study graphic design at the Kenya Polytechnic (now Technical University).
From there, he got a job with Metal Box in Thika doing graphic design. But this too did not satisfy his desire to get to work on his own. And that is what he has been doing ever since.