Meet Kigali’s youngest artists, bringing life to visual art

Simple tools like charcoal, granite pencils, and ball pens, when put right in their hands can produce incredible results of portraits that seem so real than any black-and-white photograph could.
Khaled Cyuzuzo with some of his portraits.
Khaled Cyuzuzo with some of his portraits.

Simple tools like charcoal, granite pencils, and ball pens, when put right in their hands can produce incredible results of portraits that seem so real than any black-and-white photograph could.

Here are some of the self-taught young artists, who have nurtured their talent to make a difference in the arts sector

Khaled Cyuzuzo

The 22 year-old discovered his talent at a tender age, drawing and shading in his exercise books. His hobby was later put on hold to concentrate on his studies.

In the comfort of his home in Kagarama, Kicukiro, Cyuzuzo, now a high school graduate, is back at his game, and is not only growing his talent, but also making a living out of it.

For now, his hyper-realist portraits are done on size A3 and A4 hard paper and later framed for sale with prices ranging from Rwf15,000 to Rwf20,000 depending on their sizes.

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One of the detailed portraits done by Khaled Cyuzuzo.

Mostly, Cyuzuzo draws close-up portraits of human faces, translating detailed features to the paper, which end up looking more like any black and white photograph before our eyes.

“Before I started selling my portraits, I would draw and give them away for free, just so I can perfect my art. With the help of social media however, where I post my portraits, I have increased my client base, with many orders of their portraits coming in,” he says.

He says that his plans are to draw bigger pictures that go up to Rwf40,000, and showcase more of his work through art exhibitions. He also hopes to give his art a new touch by trying out oil paintings.

Cyuzuzo studied mathematics, economics and computer science in high school, but that field, he says, is far from what he wants to pursue a career in.

“My parents have realized that art is my passion, and have realized that I can make money out of my talent. They are now trying to push for me to pursue my studies in a good arts school,” he says.

Jean-Aimé Byiringiro

Jean-Aimé Byiringiro has been drawing for as long as he can remember.

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Jean-Aimé Byiringiro.

His Instagram page is filled with portraits with scrupulous detail that portray his practical mastery. What his many followers don’t know however, is that the 23 year old is a self-taught artist who has never had any training in the field.

“I realized that I was talented at a very young age, when drawing images only took me very little time. My parents on realizing my talent kept encouraging me to keep practicing until I began perfecting my working and drawing face portraits of people for money. Being self-employed has always been what I wanted to be and I am glad of what I can achieve through my talent,” he says.

He began using his talent commercially in 2013, after graduating from high school, which money he used to pay for his university tuition. Last year, Byiringiro graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Procurement at the University of Kigali but says his dreams are to pursue a career in art.

His favorite tool is the pencil but sometimes adds more colour to the picture with the help of charcoal and acrylic paints ‘depending on the client’s choice’. Anything can serve as inspiration in his artwork, as long as it evokes Rwandan patriotism.

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Jean-Aimé Byiringiro’s photos.
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A hyper-realist portrait of legendary musician Bob Marley done by Jean-Aimé Byiringiro.

He however, does not receive more than five clients in a month despite marketing his skills, a challenge that he blames on Rwandans for not giving value to drawings and tend to rely more on photography.

His dreams are to set up an arts studio and gallery next year to perfect his artistic skills to an ‘international standard and support young kids in improving their drawing talents.

Paul Mugisha

The soft spoken visual artist like his colleagues, began drawing on walls and floors using charcoal as a kid. He began doing some research on the basic principles of art through internet. He got the inspiration from E-Art, a Facebook group that brings artists together to share their ideas.

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Mugisha’s portraits tell of children’s issues.

When he joined Nyundo School of music and art after high school, he began using other mediums such as paints but was determined to take on the bigger risk of using pen. One year after graduation, Mugisha has mastered the use of ink.

“I wanted to try something new which is why I was determined to learn how to draw with the pen. I began using the pencil without rubbing until I was able to perfect before I began using the pen,” he says.

The pen requires mastery, he says, since mistakes cannot be erased once they are made. Remarkably, however, is how every pore, every strand of hair, every bead of sweat, and wrinkle is dutifully interpreted to the page, producing images that seem to capture meticulous detail, with just the scribble of the pen. Most of his portraits are often half way complete, another of his artistic expressions.

The 20 year old’s portraits are mostly descriptions of children’s sufferings and happiness, which he says are inspired by their strong expressions of genuineness and innocence and has showcased some of his art work at an exhibition at the Inganzo Art Centre.

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A portrait of Martin Luther King Jr scribbled in pen by Paul Mugisha.

On the significance of his drawings, Mugisha believes that artists cannot be compared to photographers, as their drawings carry more meaning than what the human eye can see.

Artwork entails creativity that you cannot find in photography. Artists are allowed to dream and add more meaning to portrait, and since every human being dreams, our work gives us the opportunity to do just that, he says.

 

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