Curated around the theme of Monochromes, the exhibition at Sankara brings together artists from diverse origins who work with black and white in different ways and who sculpt the same wooden material into immensely different pieces of art.
Thom Ogonga exhibits bold woodcut prints and Farrah Akbarali works meticulously with ink on paper. To compliment the two dimensional works, three sculptors have been chosen; Kenyan veteran sculptor, Morris Foit needs little introduction and already has many works in the Sankara collection. Charles Kamya hails from Uganda and whilst he is a committed and well established artist, he has not been shown extensively in Kenya. The work of ‘Baldy’ Osborne is one of Kenya’s best kept secrets. The sophistication of this sculptor’s finish is indicative of a master craftsman in his chosen field.
Ogonga Thom was born in 1975 in Nairobi, Kenya. Though not formally trained as an artist, he apprenticed at Kuona Trust from 1997 where he was introduced to numerous artistic platforms through technical training workshops over a period of 4 years. He eventually majored in painting but with time ventured into printmaking and experimental art.
Thom has exhibited widely and participated in artist residencies and workshops both locally and abroad. He has also participated in special projects like the travelling billboard (Images in Transit) and painting with refugees in the camps (Building Art Together) and is involved in project conceptualization and implementation locally. He also writes about art on his blog - thealternativewriter.blogspot.com - and has been commissioned by reputable publications to give opinion pieces on art-related issues. He was awarded the 2nd prize in the painting category in the Elysee Treaty Juried Competition in 2006. He lives & works in Nairobi.
Toronto, Canada based visual artist, Farrah Akbarali (b. Pretoria, South Africa) is best known for her detailed ink line drawings. She earned a Bachelor of Design degree from the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto, Canada (OCADU). Farrah has lived in Geneva, Switzerland and more recently Maputo, Mozambique. Her time and experiences in these cities have greatly contributed to her visual voice.
Farrah’s art is conceptually driven. Her work is inspired by meditations, conscious thought and energy. Farrah uses seemingly delicate objects and enlarges them to present the viewer with a different perspective whereby changing the context and the way we normally ‘see’.
Farrah’s interest lies in exploring the transformative nature of conscious thought through energetically charged lines. Her drawings are built up line by line so that the final piece vibrates with energy. She imbues each line with her memories, thoughts, hopes and supplications to life in order to invoke vibrations into each drawing. Her drawings are almost always psychoanalytical or spiritual journeys.
Born in the late 40s in Kiambu and baptized Joseph Morris Njau Mung’othi, ‘Foit’ renamed himself out of respect for a Czech professor who came to Kenya to teach sculpture at Kenyatta University and who took Morris under his wing for four years, teaching him his craft.
Maturity has brought refinement to Foit’s work and the monumental piece in the reception of Sankara Hotel is surely one of his proudest achievements.
An intensely private man by nature, Osborne’s charming explanation of his circumstances is best told in his own voice:
‘I started carving wood over ten years ago basically picking up some tools one day and off I went. Absolutely no artistic training, I just do whatever comes through my crazy mind. With operating our business over the years I have been restricted to working with wood chipping whenever time has allowed…my son and I run Smokey Oakeys, the small smoked salmon company here in Tigoni.
'It has become an absolute passion for me, but without external pressure to please others I take up the tools whenever I can, working at my own pace, cutting away purely for the pleasure I get from shaping up a new block of timber’.
Born in 1983 in Uganda, Charles terms himself as ‘a very serious, creative, self-taught sculptor’. Working almost exclusively in found pieces of Albizia wood, Kamya explains that he is compelled to sculpt the ‘message’ he receives in his mind. Each piece takes approximately one week to complete and then undergoes intensive polishing with wax.
Kamya has exhibited his works since 1999. In 2011 he was the recipient of the Carving Studio and Sculpture Centre residency in Vermont, USA. He has also travelled to Germany and Denmark to attend symposiums.
Preview of Works
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