With the impressive post-genocide development happening all over Rwanda, it’s imperative that the country’s progress is showcased in different mediums.
Djamal Ntagara, a Kimihurura based visual artist, is busy preparing over 30 pieces of artwork that will be exhibited next month. “This exhibition is going to be all about the road we have travelled and our future aspiration as a united country through the colourful work of art,” he says.
Most of the paintings he’s working on show the compelling development Kigali City and the countryside have achieved in terms of construction work and social development. Tall and impressive buildings, like Kigali City Heights, Kigali Convention Centre and Kigali City Tower that have changed the Kigali skyline are colourfully painted on giant canvases.
For example, a 60x51cm untitled acrylic on canvas shows a big crowd of people moving shoulder to shoulder in a busy city street. Tall buildings of Kigali’s imposing skyline are painted on the background.
Ntagara is also going to experiment with a new style of art, which he says is quite unique. He says that he’s making lampshades which are perched on top of colourfully painted bottles. The paintings on the bottles also depict various shades of the country’s development, like the booming construction industry that’s now seen in every corner of the city.
“This is a two-in-one piece of art and craft whereby when you buy the lampshade, you get the additional bonus of seeing an attractive piece of art,” he explains.
With his abstract piece called “Unknown Feelings”, the artist paints different kinds of faces to show different kinds of feelings and emotions people show in their everyday life; the feelings of joy and sadness, contentment and deprivation, pain and success among others.
There’s also an untitled piece to be exhibited that shows women walking along crowded streets selling food and agricultural produce, while some people are busy working at a construction site. Agriculture and business are some of the sectors that sustain many a family.
He says that he has been inspired by tourists who normally come to the country and marvel at how Rwanda is fast developing.
“They keep appreciating the massive development being carried out. The tourists who’ll purchase my artwork are also going to advertise this development outside Rwanda,” he says.
He further explains that he doesn’t use any photographs to help him draw and paint the images on canvas but uses his imagination after walking around and seeing, for example, the buildings that dot many places in Kigali.
“This is imaginative art at its best,” he says.
Ntagara whose artwork is also exhibited at Sole Luna hotel at Gishushu pays homage to his mentor, Jean Bosco Bakunzi, the founder of Uburanga Art Centre for having made him the artist he is today and his peers at the Kimihurura-based art studio for their support since he took art as a career.