Jules Uwitonze was born in 1983 in Kigali, where he lives and works today and describes himself as a self-taught artist, a journey he embarked on in 2008.
Uwitonze draws his artistic inspiration from nature, the cultures of nations, and world problems in general.
“I have a strong passion for the arts, and I want to share the word of peace through my works,” the artist quips.
The artist professes an undying preference for abstract art, and explains why;
“Because abstract art is easier to use to explain and to express myself to the world”.
Uwitonze uses a range of materials to come up with his art pieces, and further professes a weakness for collectible art. To this end the artist says; “I can’t be jobless because of absence of materials. I can use anything.”
“I use different materials but mostly things that are readily available around me –like the bark of trees, sand, wood, even grass, I can’t list them all.”
Uwitonze’s artistic profile shot through the roof following the establishment of a contemporary art gallery at the former Kigali Business Center, popularly known as KBC, in Kimihurura, Central Kigali. That was about three years ago.
The gallery was known as the Rwanda Art and Décor Gallery, and what’s more, the artist left it open for guest exhibiting artists, giving the gallery the peculiar feel of an art collective.
However following the redevelopment of the prime KBC location, which is still underway, the artist was compelled to move shop. Uwitonze recalls that business at KBC was “not bad at all”, and it’s for this reason that he still has his eyes on re-instating his art gallery at the same location once the new ultra modern complex is completed.
Presently, the gallery’s operations have retreated to his home-based studio in Kacyiru, right next to the La Colombiere School.
Here, one will find the artist down to work on his colorful portraits, and especially on weekends, you will catch him taking budding visual artists through the paces of painting and interior décor.
He describes Rwanda Art and Décor Gallery as “a company which creates many concepts in art and décor,” and goes ahead to draw a distinction between art and décor:
“Décor and art are almost the same, although we often try to make a distinction between the two. But one can complete another, because decoration is an art form.”
However this is just a working space, and an extensive collection of Uwitonze’s finished works can be found at New Ma Maison, an art gallery located next to Ecole Belge, in Downtown Kigali.
“Art and painting is my life. It’s my way to explain myself, and I need that so that many people can understand many things around the world and in life through my art products,” he reveals.
“Before that I was a student but even then, I was self-searching as an artist. In my secondary school in Southern Province I did sciences (Biology and Chemistry), but after finishing my studies I undertook a lot of personal research on art and soon I discovered that it was my life’s passion. So I decided to do it professionally.”
Uwitonze also has several of his numerous art pieces dotted in different parts of the city, and the artist has also done decoration for different organizations and individuals. Banks, restaurants, coffee shops, and private residences alike have taken to the artist’s creations to embellish their interior art décor.
He has further sold several pieces out of the country through a series of exhibitions in Europe and East Africa.
In 2013, he participated in a joint visual art exhibition in Germany featuring visual artists from all over the world. In East Africa, he has thrice participated in the annual East African Biennale art festival in Zanzibar, beginning in 2010.
In Rwanda his last exhibition was in 2014 at Inganzo Art Center in Masaka, owned by veteran artist Epa Binamungu. It was a group exhibition.
“This new year, my focus is to stage many local exhibitions in partnership with my fellow artists, and also to open up my gallery again.”