The tales of Ngabo, an upcoming self-taught sculptor

Emmanuel Ngabo sketching portraits at his residence in Gikondo. / Courtesy photos.

Emmanuel Ngabo is a fascinating and talented young artist, who merges digital and hand drawing in order to create amazing sculptures.

 He is a person of few words, but if given an opportunity to watch him communicate in the language that he understands better, which is sculpturing, you would be stunned.


 For the passion he had for art at the young age, he taught himself from scratch, to where he is now.


 Ngabo’s love for painting started when he was in primary school. He could draw people’s faces using a pencil, which occupied him most of his free time.


 Having completed his studies at APE Rugunga Secondary School in 2015, he wasn’t lucky enough to join university as there wasn’t enough money to cater for his tuition. He sought for means to survive and earn a living, there was no other better way than art.

In addition to painting‭, ‬Ngabo is also a filmmaker‭.‬

 According to Ngabo, his very first foray into professional art began in 2017. He has since made strides but he is still far from where he wants to be.

 “Although I am not where I want to be yet, at least I am still moving,” he said.

 The 23-year-old artist uses papier mâché, as the main medium and other materials like plaster, wood, clay among others. These are all from hardware.

 While sculpting, Ngabo focuses on historical themes that portray the historical icons and ancient cultures. He noted that sculpture is one of the mediums an artist can use to communicate in-depth about something, unlike other kinds of art that deal with painting.

 “If I am to develop someone’s face, I will have to first, create a skeleton, then add materials until the portrait shows exactly the face of a person, which is not the case with the other forms of art that just requires painting or less effort,” he stressed.

 To him, what makes sculpture unique from other art genres is that one could touch it and feel its numerous textures and forms.

 Ngabo explained that being a sculptor calls for creativity, instinctively, complexity, coherent, and expression. Through sculpture, a sculptor reasons with things, as it is an art that is concerned with other ways to think and feel.

 He noted that culture is appreciated through sculpturing because the culture of a society can be stated in a simple art piece.

 Sculpture comprises the alteration of any solid material into any form or shape. The artist is confident that this kind of art enables people to view the world in a more genuine manner and appreciate nature and the environment.

 What enabled him to improve his skills each day is through practice. He has also done some research through reading books and YouTube tutorials.

 However, his work hasn’t bloomed yet as he is still penetrating the local art industry, though he gives credit to every single person that supports him when he posts his art pieces on Instagram. So far, that is how he is managing to market his business.

 Ngabo’s main challenge is the lack of enough capital to expand his business. But he is optimistic that once he gets famous in Rwanda, he will be able to attract more customers.

 This is because his art pieces range from Rwf30,000 to Rwf50,000 and above, depending on how big they are and the meaning portrayed.

 He is anticipating organising an art exhibition, printing his art on attires, and building his network through connecting with known artists.

 His artwork can be found in Gisimba Art Gallery. It can take him about a week to finish one portrait.

 The youngster is also talented in filmmaking. He has directed and recorded a number of movies under Kiruri MFN Company. Some of these movies are; “Kanama”, “Fish Bowl”, “Kinema” and “Home”, among others.

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