2017 was a journey of discovery for arts sector

Exhibitions, be it solo or group, are one of the cornerstones of the visual art industry. The exhibitions also serve as a forum for art enthusiasts to get up-close-and-personal with the artists, to partake in the artistic process through live painting sessions, and also to see the processes that go into the finished art pieces that usually adorn art spaces.
Veteran artist Epa Binamungu had a number of activities through 2017. / File
Veteran artist Epa Binamungu had a number of activities through 2017. / File

Exhibitions, be it solo or group, are one of the cornerstones of the visual art industry. The exhibitions also serve as a forum for art enthusiasts to get up-close-and-personal with the artists, to partake in the artistic process through live painting sessions, and also to see the processes that go into the finished art pieces that usually adorn art spaces.

The exhibitions typically occur at the respective art galleries dotted around Kigali, but increasingly, many artists are thinking out of the box, staging exhibitions at other public spaces like hotels, restaurants and other creative spaces.

As usual, the visual art scene started to gain momentum towards the second half of the year, with the beginning of the year considered a low season.

Mid July, visual artist Akimana Fabien opened his solo exhibition titled Universal Beauty at the upscale Heaven Restaurant in Kiyovu, one of the leading exhibition spaces for local visual artists in recent years.

The exhibition was a collage of the artist’s self-professed love for women, nature and the innocence of country life, all of which are enduring themes in Akimana’s artistic body of work.

The exhibition came a few months after the artist embarked on a solo painting career, with the opening of his Abien Arts Center in Kacyiru, the Kigali suburb that has curved out a niche as Kigali’s visual art hub. Previously, he was affiliated to the Ivuka arts Studio.

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Guests listen to an exhibitor as he narrates about his work. / File

At the beginning of November, the artist returned with a second edition of Universal Beauty, still at the Heaven Restaurant.

At the close of September, visual artist Emmanuel Nkuranga’s Analog Aerials solo exhibition opened at the Inema Art Center, also in Kacyiru.

Nkuranga is a co-founder of Inema Art Center, and one of the trailblazers on the local contemporary visual art scene.

Analog Aerials was one of those visual art exhibitions that were conceived “outside the box”; with the artists going for disused computer parts and other e-waste to create impressions of cityscapes.

He made use of materials like computer motherboards, keyboards, resins and wood, as well musical instruments like an upright piano and guitar.

The following month, Innocent Buregeya staged his “A Night To The Moon” solo exhibition at the newly opened Buregeya Arts Center in Gishushu. Buregeya previously worked out of the Uburanga Arts Studio visual art collective in Kimihurura, before the facility closed shop after the founder, Bosco Bakunzi relocated to Canada.

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Exhibition goers immersed in the Agahugu Gato exhibition. / Courtesy photo

In “A Night To The Moon”, Buregeya swapped 2D canvass in favor of burnt wood, making extensive use of fire, wood and natural colors to bring to life some of his favorite themes, like the African woman, and traditional African motifs.

Still in October, visual artists Timothy Wandulu stretched the boundaries of local visual art exhibitions even further, with a trend-setting video art exhibition titled Women In Pink.

The exhibition at his Concept Art Studios in Kacyiru was dedicated specifically to the cause of raising awareness about the scourge of breast cancer in the country.

The artist deviated from 2D canvass, the standard medium for visual artists, and instead settled for the video medium. Exhibition goers had their eyes glued not to portraits hanging from walls, but to a TV screen that showed documented information from shared stories about breast cancer both from within Rwanda and from abroad.

Biographies and interviews of prominent campaigners in the fight against breast cancer were also screened.

In November, the Iwacu Wellness Center in Kagugu organised a grand re-opening, in which the center’s new visual art space was unveiled to the public.

Iwacu is a ‘relax and revive’ centre that offers healing treatments like massage, meditation, reflexology and aromatherapy to revitalise the body and mind.

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One of the paintings at Iwacu Wellness Centre in Kagugu during the opening. / File

However, a stubborn downpour on the afternoon of the opening left a bitter taste in the mouth of both organisers and the few people that attended.

Matters were not helped by the fact that there was a Rwf5,000 cover charge to access the event. In the end, all the evening’s planned activities –a bonfire, barbecue, live painting and a drink up all had to be suspended.

The event was eventually pushed to the next day, but the damage had already been done.

At the onset of December, the Kigali Center For Photography, the first of its kind in the country was unveiled in a well attended launch ceremony.

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Jacques Nkinzingabo (with mic), the host introduces the other exhibiting artists.

Tucked away behind the American Embassy in Kacyiru, the facility is the brainchild of local freelance photographer Jacques Nkinzingabo.

A group photo exhibition titled AgahuguGato (Little Country) also run as part of the launch ceremony.

It featured the works of ten photographers (both local and foreign) in a photographic exploration of the beauty of post-genocide Rwanda.

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December also saw veteran visual artist Epa Binamungu host the IwacuNyumbani collective visual art exhibition at his Inganzo Art Center in Masaka. The eight-day exhibition featured ten local visual artists, and fourteen from Tanzania. It run under the theme; My Art For You.

In the same month, 23-year-old visual artist Cedric Mizero took visual art enthusiasts on a journey of discovery of the African woman –her struggles, her beauty, and her place in contemporary society. The exhibition was staged at the Park Inn By Radisson, in Kiyovu.

The images he showcased are those of women he met while traversing the countryside as part of his Fashion For All project.

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