A 17-year-old artist driven by the power of contemporary art

When one puts their mind and energy to something, they can surely achieve it. So is the story of Rhema Nkundiryayo, who developed the enthusiasm for art at a very early age.

At a tender age of 7, he surely had no idea what the future held for him until he met a friend who introduced him to art. The friend in question was already established when it came to art and equipped him with the necessary tips to succeed in the craft. His love for art hauled up with time.


Nkundiryayo could copy some drawings and pictures on book covers but preferred doing graffiti painting as a form of art.


In order to pump up his art skills, the 17-year-old artist pursued a course in art at Nyundo School of Art and Music, where he graduated in 2019.


From there he chose to focus on contemporary art, which he defines as the kind of art that reflects the complex issues that shape the diverse, global and swiftly changing world.

He noted that his work as a contemporary artist is to scrutinize personal or cultural identity and offer critiques of social and institutional structures. It is the art of the present day and of a tad of the recent past.

Some of Nkundiryayo’s art pieces‭.  ‬Courtesy photos‭. ‬

The youngster said that contemporary artwork can be used to decorate different places like homes, hotels and other venues when they can completely transform the outlook of those places. This kind of art holds some aptitude to stimulate a sense of inclination in the viewer’s eyes.

“Contemporary art allows individuals to express themselves through paintings, sculptures, and performing arts, such outlooks that are conveyed are treasured for society as they are given an inimitable gap into the minds and judgments of the artist,” he states.

Nkundiryayo explained that Rwandans have the opportunity to observe incitements that can induce their thoughts and even emotions, which can result in learning new information and growth of the mind.

Contemporary art permits the artist to annotate the culture around them and it gives an exceptional focus on the past that can’t just be told by words or written about in the history books. The observer is able to entirely engross the piece, according to him.

Rhema Nkundiryayo at his workshop in Gikondo‭, ‬Kigali‭.  ‬

He is, however, despondent that some people view art as an unserious course or subject, but give credit to subjects, such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), yet art is also an important subject in its unique way.

This is because visual art inspires people to see aspects of life that they might take for granted and expose learners to see other possibilities beyond what they already know, the artist stressed.

Studying contemporary art is key in teaching students to be compassionate. For example, art enables viewers or learners to see through other people’s eyes, which helps them open up to an experience that they lack.

Nkundiryayo also pointed out that contemporary art can be simple and complex depending on how one interprets it, as it carries the attitude that needs to be understood carefully. This kind of art is based on truth and concealed authenticities.

However, to his dismay, Rwandans haven’t yet picked interest or understood contemporary art as they are more captivated in the art based on culture.

He is nevertheless expressing his views through the mixture of culture-based art into contemporary art for example, by portraying how Rwandan traditional dance was attractive back in the days, as a way of blending the past and the modern.

“I can draw Rwandans of the old times dancing, while wearing modern clothes, to basically show the transformation of traditional culture into the modern one and still remain relevant. This is how I can attract Rwandans to like contemporary art,” Nkundiryayo pointed out.


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