When people talk of art, a lot of things come to mind. We learn from our Rwandan History that life can be expressed in different forms. This is seen through music, dance, sculpture, textile, sketches, paintings, weaving and pottery.
Over the years, painting has become one of the most popular and contemporary static forms of expression. Young artists are using art not only as a form of expression, but a way of life.
One such artist is Morris Munyanah. Skilled to the bone he has made a decision to leave no stone unturned when it comes to promoting Rwandan art.
The young artist expresses his interpretation of Rwandan life through paint and a brush.
Munyanah’s paintings are mainly a combination of realism and semi- abstract. Realism is a painting style where the meaning of the painting is obvious, while semi-abstract is when there is a hidden meaning on a painting.
Like many skilled painters, Munyanah did not wake up one morning and start painting. He had to develop this skill over time.
After much encouragement, motivation and mentoring from professional artists, this young artist slowly developed his painting skill and talent.
“My teacher always knew I had potential in art. She made me draw science figures, maps and Stone Age men on the blackboard. So by the time I met other artists and showed them my paintings-- though they were vague, they knew I had hidden talent that just needed to be explored.”
This is what set Munyanah on his path of painting. He visited art galleries and was impressed by the finished pieces he saw.
That’s when he decided that he wanted to be an artist and even paint better pieces.
Today, Munyanah has embarked on a journey of portraying Rwandan culture as well as real issues faced in our society today such as the plight of the rural woman.
Through transforming vivid images in his mind into a finished piece using paint and a brush on canvas, he is able to clearly show something about Rwanda that the world has not yet seen.
“I like painting reality. This is especially about the way the rural and upcountry folk live their lives. For example the scenario of a pregnant woman carrying a baby on her back, luggage on her head and hands while walking is common.”
According to this young painter, there is a story of a lifetime to tell about the rural woman yet no one has the time to listen.
However, Munyanah says, “Depending on the mood of a situation, I make a painting that brings out the emotions, feelings and struggle of the rural woman.”
With all this art skill at his disposal, despite the many challenges that Rwandan painters face, Munyanah is determined to achieve his dream of owning an art gallery.
The challenge of easily accessing materials since they are got from neighbouring countries or overseas makes professional painting in Rwanda difficult.
Besides that, painters have a task of creating awareness among the local Rwandan population which is not yet exposed to painting as a form of Rwandan art. As a result majority of the buyers are visitors from other countries.
This has called for innovative ways of selling through the Internet. Through websites like www.artslant.com/munyanah, where various artists showcase their finished pieces, art lovers and painters around the world are connecting and linking with a common goal of promoting Rwandan art.
For Munyanah, the fact that someone can take the time to look, understood and appreciate a painting, is the reason he paints. This is his inspiration and motivation.