Art exhibitions have been shut down by the coronavirus scare that has hit not only Kenya but the global.
Nonetheless, a few art shows and artists have gone online. In future, more artists are ought to put their works online either with online galleries like KendiArt or One Off Gallery or as solo artists on websites, Facebook or Instagram.
Some of the shows that were put on hold were to be held in Nairobi’s Waterfront Mall in Karen, Karen Country Club, Kenya National Theatre’s Cheche Gallery, and at the Art Caffe Westminister where you would have found the one-woman exhibition by Taabu Munyoki.
Fortunately for Taabu, Art Caffe has a Facebook page where you will find an interview with Taabu but not her paintings.
Cheche Gallery had a painting of ‘Goddesses and Queens’ by Chela Cherwon and works by Afro-Renaissance artists Steve Ogallo aka Sogallo and Marvin Macharia aka Native.
At Karen Country Club, you could have seen art by Mary Ogembo, Nadia Wamunyu, Kay Sanaa, Rose Mwendwa, Stephanie Otolo and Celeste de Vries as well as Dickson Nedia, Kibet Kirui, Kamau Kariuki Absalom Aswani and Kenndy Kinyua among others.
The Art Auction East Africa which also had a preview exhibition at Circle Art Gallery, offers a good example of online art. The website had artworks by outstanding women artists. Among them are women from around East Africa such as Souad Abdul Rassoul from Egypt as well as Theresa Musoke, Dr Lilian Nabulima, Sarah Wasswa and Stacey Gillian Abe all from Uganda.
Among the Kenyan women whose art can be found online, thanks to Circle Art Gallery are Rosemary Karuga, Yony Waite, Tabitha wa Thuku, Annabel Wanjiku and Emily Odongo. The conclusion that artists can draw from the COVID-19 pandemic is that if they want their art to be seen in this day and age, they had better find ways to exhibit it online.
The easiest way to do that is to go on Facebook or Instagram and expose your art. Some are already using YouTube and a few are assembling websites of their own, such as Chelenge van Rampelberg who has her own home gallery.
Then there are a number of artists affiliated with specific galleries or online platforms like ArtLabAfrica.
So while a number of artists refuse to show their works online because they are paranoid that someone will ‘steal’ their ideas.
But it is more likely those online will have greater opportunities to show and also sell their works. They will also have a higher public profile.