Sankara - Sane Wadu and Fitsum Berhe
About the exhibition
Approximately every quarter, One Off Gallery partners with Sankara to host an interesting art exhibition in the second floor atrium. Artists in Sankara’s own permanent collection have selection priority and so Sane Wadu and Fitsum Berhe were an obvious choice for the latest show.
The exhibition titled ‘First generation, Second generation’ is curated with the specific objective of highlighting contrasts between the two generations of artists working side by side in Nairobi’s artistic space.
Sane Wadu is arguably the most highly published of the Kenyan artists of his generation. Wadu’s career had an inauspicious start. In 1983, having resigned a wage-earning teaching job he took to painting. Often wearing one of his latest creations, he was marginalized by his community and dubbed ‘insane’. When he sold work for significant sums of money, he branded himself 'Sane' in the reaffirmation of his sanity.
Born in 1954 on the outskirts of Nairobi, Wadu’s paintings are a fascinating mix of rural and urban influences. Frenetic brushwork and complex visual metaphors are characteristic of his paintings. Working primarily in oil on canvas, the complexity of the compositions often disguises a strong political message.
Wadu tends towards a pastel palette and dense brush work. Intermingled amongst his human subjects are often wild animals and even, perhaps, his own self portrait.
Wadu’s work has been exhibited the world over; from New York to the Museum fur Volkerkunde in Frankfurt, Germany. Most recently he is featured in ‘Angaza Africa’ by Christopher Spring, curator of the African Galleries at the British Museum.
Fitsum Berhe Woldelibanos
Fitsum’s work is typically about colour; the compelling energy of the broad brush strokes; the chiseled bone structure of the faces; the hypnotic eyes which engage the viewer; snippets of fabric; the odd suggestion of an architectural element: all are trademarks of Fitsum Berhe Woldelibanos’s oil paintings. The eyes of these subjects are utterly engaging.
Born and raised in Ethiopia, Woldelibanos went on to attain a degree from the University of Asmara in Eritrea. On graduation he was drawn to the academic in art and taught at the French School in Nairobi. More recently he has devoted himself to painting full time. Works are typically figurative and inspired by live models. He explains: ‘I search for the human core, the pure constant between our current existence and our past with our ancestors. I search for man’s most basic element…’
Needless to say Woldelibanos finds an appreciative audience for his work the world over. Selected exhibitions have taken place at home in Nairobi, in Lamu, Canada, Austria and France.
Preview of Works
Click thumbnail to enlarge and scroll through all images