Inside Art-Rwanda Ubuhanzi showroom where talent is showcased

Visual artist Innocent Kagabo during a live painting at Art-Rwanda Ubuhanzi showroom. His work reflects both Rwandan and African culture. / Photos by Gad Nshimiyimana.

Ever since he joined Art-Rwanda Ubuhanzi incubation programme last year, visual artist Innocent Kagabo’s touch on paintings has become a household signature to reckon with. 

The 23-year-old artist was performing a live painting session at the recently opened Art-Rwanda Ubuhanzi showroom when The New Times visited the place last week.


Located at Kigali Business Centre (KBC) in Kacyiru, the showroom is home to the best products by the first class of artists selected among the best during the first edition of Art-Rwanda Ubuhanzi talent search in December 2018.


Launched in August 2018, the talent search is a joint project by the Ministry of Youth and Culture and Imbuto Foundation which seeks to identify young artistic talent across a wide spectrum of art disciplines and offer them the requisite skills and tools to not only hone their respective talents but also become creative entrepreneurs.


The finalist of the inaugural talent search in the category of Plastic Arts, Kagabo’s talent is increasingly becoming one of the most sought-after visual artists in Kigali and his paintings are among the works that keep attracting people to visit the showroom.

The showroom is also home to locally produced clothes and accessories‭.‬

“I am not drawing these paintings for myself but for my people. That is why I take enough time working on my paintings to give them the beauty and the finesse that can impress the customers,” Kagabo said.

“Art-Rwanda Ubuhanzi gave me a platform to excel in what I do and is now giving exposure for my works at this showroom. I am already thinking of establishing a company to start my own business around this,” he added.

When you enter the showroom, you are welcomed by a variety of unique and classic apparel, accessories, books, sculptures, and beautiful photographs for your home, office, or hotel décor. Some hang on walls, while others are placed on the floor.

Some of the finely beaded vases at Art-Rwanda Ubuhanzi showroom‭.‬

The showroom was set up to showcase art pieces produced by each of the talent search finalists, as a result of the skills gained from the one-year mentorship programme at the incubation centre on how best they can turn their talents into profitable businesses.

The shop opened in March to create a space for artists to showcase the best of their works, but could not run operations as planned after the first case of new coronavirus was recorded in Rwanda in mid-March. It later reopened in July. 

Josine Mugabekazi, the showroom salesperson, said that the time has come for the artists to start making returns out of their talent and that the showroom was established to show them the business side of what they do.

“Many people think that their lives can’t depend on their talent, but we are doing all this to show them the reality behind this where, thanks to their talent, they can do a business that can create employment opportunities for so many people around them,” said Mugabekazi.

“We are using this programme to prepare them into future entrepreneurs because they need to start a new life to pave the way for their young and sisters who we hope to select in the next talent search edition,” she added.

She said that people visit the place frequently and buy some artistic works from the showroom.

The showroom is open to the 70 finalists of Art-Rwanda Ubuhanzi to showcase their work and every category so far is represented through photography, fashion, and paintings that claim bigger space so far.

Mugabekazi, however, said there has been a shortage of sales at the showroom as a result of the current crisis caused by the Covid-19.

Josine Mugabekazi, the salesperson at Art-Rwanda Ubuhanzi showroom, said there has been a shortage in sales at the showroom due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Samuel Ndayishimiye, 23, has some printed photographs that are on display at the showroom with prices ranging from Rwf100, 000 to Rwf200, 000.

Samuel Ndayishimiye’s photographs are featured in the showroom.

From the very beginning, he says, photography was something he used to do for fun “but now, I know exactly what it takes to make money out of it. We know how it can bring us money, our target clients, how we can approach them, and the business we can do with them,” said.

Since joining photography as his full-time business, Ndayishimiye has been able to sell a photo for Rwf600, 000, his biggest bargain ever.

Part of the money from the sold products at the showroom is given to the artists while the other part is deposited on their savings accounts.

More platforms are also being created for young artists to showcase their talent, where they share the stage with established artistes lined up to perform at the ongoing Iwacu Muzika festival.

One of the sculptures at the Kigali Business Centre-based shop.

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