James Mbuthia Exhibition
James Mbuthia was born in 1958 in Banana Hill - what is now a rapidly growing settlement, in the eastern part of Kiambu County of the Central Province, Kenya.
Banana hill has a unique reputation as home to an extraordinary concentration of visual artists.
His process is quite intriguing. Mbuthia travels to locations he considers special. Where he finds his Chi. He drives to these spots regularly to listen to sounds and absorb the energies they offer. In Naivasha, especially during sunsets, Mbuthia sees colours he says, "you would not encounter anywhere else." In Longonot he experiences landscapes that defy logical colour theory and hears sounds that translate into beautiful shapes. He neither takes pictures of what he sees nor records whatever he hears. It's all recorded in memory with the aid of a small pair of binoculars he always carries with him.
However, while most painters paint what they see, Mbuthia paints what he feels during these special moments. He is probably the only artist regionally known to experiences synaesthesia - a neurological phenomenon that results in a joining/merging of senses that aren't normally connected. The stimulation of one sense causes an involuntary reaction in one or more of the other senses. For example, someone may hear colour or see sound. Other artists known to have experienced synaesthesia include Vincent van Gogh and David Hockney.
'Conversation In Silence' at One Off features new works made over the last one year and is a continuation of his exploration of telling stories using imagery generated from sounds and using nature as his point of departure in his art making. He says it is a culmination of paintings that have been produced as a result of him sitting, observing, enjoying and silently communicating with nature.
Mbuthia, a highly religious man, is very philosophical about his practice and lifestyle. His conversation is regularly punctuated with the bible and says, "What keeps me practicing art is faith & hope. With or without making money from art, I can't stop. It is the only language easily understood the world over. What some people do not know about me is I am a born again Christian, a father, a grand Pa and Pastor. We also do some farming."
Mbuthia, has participated in art workshops in the USA, France & Kenya and exhibited in Marsaille - France (2001), London - UK (2005), Newark, New Jersey - USA (2009), South Korea (2009) and extensively in Kenya. He continues to work from his studio in Banana Hill.
© Ogonga Thom (2018)
Business Daily - 13-05-18 - Mbuthia’s blissful art at One Off Gallery
Preview of Works
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Exhibition openings are usually on the last Saturday of every month, excluding December. The gallery remains open on Sundays allowing anyone who missed the opening to catch the exhibition the next day. Do join our mailing list so we can send you an invitation.