Willy Karekezi is a young and talented Rwandan contemporary artist under Uburanga Arts Studio located in Kimihurura, a suburb of Kigali City.
He recently worked with his fellow artist and friend, Augustin Hakizimana to create a collection of cultural clothing crafted from bark cloth to showcase at the Rwanda Cultural Fashion Show 2015. He has a passion for Rwandan tradition and it reflects in his work.
The 22-year-old fell in love with art as early as his early childhood, and started developing his drawing skills with comic books while attending primary school. In 2010, with only some sketching experience, he joined the Uburanga team.
His parents were not supportive back then since they wanted their son to finish high school first. Without the money to buy paint and the necessary material at that time, Karekezi continued to sketch until 2013 when he graduated from school.
That is when his painting career started. He started teaching art skills to children and selling artwork to Swedish artists.
He wants his art to be universal so that people from all around the world can identify with his paintings. His plan to achieve that is to explore his own story in depth so that others can relate with the stories too.
Since the start of his artistic career 5 years ago, Karekezi has witnessed some important changes.
In September this year, he held his second solo exhibition in Kigali called the ‘Age of Love’. The exhibition happened to have a great turn out and brought something new to Kigali’s art scene. Simply hanging paintings on the wall was not enough in Karekezi’s mind so he decided to collaborate with poets. He engaged in a live painting session for the audience where he would listen to the poets’ work and find his inspiration in their words.
With the money he earns, Karekezi likes to travel since he believes that is the best way to learn about people and art. Karekezi’s talents will soon be exposed internationally too, with an exhibition planned for July 2016 in Vienna, and another in Hamburg, the following month.