Bruce Niyonkuru is one of the young budding visual artists at Ivuka Arts. He discovered his talent at the age of eight at Kacyiru Primary School, Niyonkuru where he used to draw- a hobby he loved.
Niyonkuru was born in Bujumbura, Burundi in1992. His family came back to Rwanda in 1995, one year after the genocide against the Tutsi. He has been pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business Communication Technology and ICT at Mt Kenya University, which he suspended recently to concentrate on his career.
The artist’s inspirations come through meditation, dreams, and experiences. One of his large pieces at Ivuka Arts Studio depicts agony and pain. A semi-abstract form of art work showing human images.
Niyonkuru also keeps other pieces telling the story of the Rwandan culture through dressing, traditional dance, and living. “Art grows from culture, which is diverse,” he explains.
The 23–year-old, who for three years has exercised painting at Ivuka, says he enjoys the experience, which arose out of working with experienced artists like Collin Sekajugo, the founder of Ivuka.
In 2011, he joined eight other artists to exhibit his works in London, United Kingdom; “This participation unveiled me more into the painting world,’ he says.
Niyonkuru participated in another exhibition themed Magic color which took place in USA in 2012. In 2013, he also held his solo exhibition at Ivuka Arts Centre in Kigali.
Not an easy journey
Niyonkuru says that as an artist, he has tasted the challenges the career poses, which mainly include lack of sufficient materials: “We do not easily access paints, and other materials, since these are not easily available on the Rwandan market,” he explains.
He claims that most companies present on the market have not availed products readily targeting the visual artists sector;
“We are at most times obliged to travel to neighouring countries like Uganda, where we buy them, but this makes it expensive,” he adds.
According to Niyonkuru, art is still not well known among Rwandans, “To some people, it seems useless and of no value.”
Niyonkuru is organizing another exhibition, together with fellow artists Moses Izaliza and Jackson Manzi at Ivuka, later this year. The exhibition will be held under the theme, ‘Spontaneous Rhythm’ and will highlight Rwandan cultural dance styles.