Why artist Kwitonda decided to go solo


Olivier Kwitonda works on a portrait at his new location in Kacyiru. Photo by Moses Opobo

Olivier Kwitonda has been painting since 2010 when he set out as a solo artist, plying his trade from his home studio.

Yego Arts was the first art gallery that he joined, in 2013, getting apprentice training from the founder, Tony Cyizanye. It was at Yego that Kwitonda would gain the much-needed visibility.

In 2014, however, Cyizanye travelled to the US, and left Kwitonda as care-taker of the then Nyarutarama-based art gallery.

That same year, the studio got problems with the land owner and was served a short notice to relocate before the facility was razed down for re-development.

“I moved to Kimironko first but it wasn’t a good area for art,” Kwitonda explains.

After a while he moved the studio to a new and better location in Kimihurura. Early last year, the studio held its official opening which attracted the local visual arts fraternity and well-wishers alike.

Shortly after the launch, however, Kwitonda developed a misunderstanding with the founder, and the two parted ways.

The artist recently decided to try it on his own once again, and moved from Kimihurura to his new location behind the US Embassy in Kacyiru. The new place is rather small and off-road as compared to his two previous locations, but he says he is planning on moving to a bigger and better location soon.

Kwitonda was first inspired to pursue an artistic career following the death of his mother when he was in Senior Two. The death of his mother effectively rendered him an orphan since, he says, his father was polygamous and wasn’t there for him and his two siblings.

Painting offered the best opportunity for him to vent his sorrow. He plans on his first solo exhibition in March this year.