Sculpting our history

Sculpture is part of life for Rwandans now days. It is seen in many places including streets, public squares, buildings, parks and gardens.
Sculptures look good in a living room. (photo / G. Barya)
Sculptures look good in a living room. (photo / G. Barya)

Sculpture is part of life for Rwandans now days. It is seen in many places including streets, public squares, buildings, parks and gardens.

Sculptors use materials such as stone, wood, metal, resin and plastics to create anything from small fine art objects to large-scale works that can become powerful landmarks.

Some sculptors are self-taught, others learn from an early period of assisting a more senior artist, or from formal training at Australian and  other Schools of artinternational.

Carving, casting, welding and assemblage are just a few of the techniques used to create sculptures.

In Rwanda, the business is growing. There is selling of art sculptures which are curved by one of our own  like Laurent Hategekimana at Hotel Novotel.

If you look at the pieces on  display in his show room you would conclude that Hakizimana is a real sculptor. Most of his sculptures depict the cultural life style of Rwandans and their day today activities. Looking at these sculptures, you see a silent story of the Rwandan culture.

Born in 1976, Hategekimana studied and got a diploma in sculpting and painting. He is also a teacher in plastic arts. He has held shows in Los Angeles in USA and in Ottawa Canada.

Hakizimana has also won trophies in France and in Africa. While sculpture is considered to be the main form of art in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in West and Central Africa, the Rwandan society has favoured the performing arts.

Aggrey Mazimpaka whom this reporter found admiring the art works at the show says that Rwandans should embrace the culture of loving art because according to him, art is something that can preserve history for a very long time.  

Because sculpting involves the use of materials that can be moulded or modulated, it is considered one of the plastic arts. The majority of public art is sculpture.

“Sculptures look good if decorated in a living room or in the office and they give me some kind of accompaniment whenever I am alone,” says Oliver Uwimbabazi when asked why she was buying the Sculpture from the show room.

In the past, sculpture was only used in the decoration of domestic tools and objects; the making of statues and masks has been introduced recently.

The classic painting has been developed by the Art school of Nyundo. However, the use of colors is widespread in the basketry and in home interior decor.

Sculptors have generally sought to produce works of art that are as permanent as possible, working in durable and frequently expensive materials such as bronze.

More rarely, precious materials such as gold, silver, jade, and ivory were used for chryselephantine works. More common and less expensive materials were used for sculpture for wider consumption, including glass and hardwoods.

Using their respective tools, the artists express their vision of the world in general and their vision of Rwanda in particular. They paint or sculpt diverse aspects of culture and behavior of the Rwandan people. Mostly, they envision a world full of hope.

Their models are inspired mainly from everyday life following the 1994 Tutsi genocide tragedy. A number of art products made after 1994 depict certain scenes of the Genocide, of the exile and massive return of the Rwandan population. The gruesome scenes are mixed with representations expressing hope.