Sankara - Some of Kenya's biggest names
One Off Gallery
Chelenge van Rampelberg
Sankara Hotel and One Off Gallery are proud to present an exhibition of works by some of Kenya’s biggest artists. All the works in the exhibition “recent works” are on show for the first time. For anyone starting a collection, many of these artists are the equivalent of a 'blue chip' investment.
Peterson Kamwathi is generally considered to be at the top of his game. The British Museum displays one of his works at the entrance of their Africa Gallery. In this exhibition his 'constellation and sediment series' visits the crisis faced by the vast number of migrants crossing from Africa and Syria into Europe. Consider their means of navigation and the icons of Western civilization which they will encounter upon their arrival on those distant shores. Europeans laze under their umbrellas on the beach or play beach ball; desperate, exhausted migrants emerge from the sea onto the same beach. Who has the right to be there? Peterson believes they both do.
Peter Ngugi is currently exploring all forms of corruption, from those at the top of the pile who bribe to those who receive. Ngugi is extremely inventive with his media and these two series are no exception: 'Man’s wealth measured by cups of Chai and Men of the dump series'. His choice of material is not accidental and I believe the titles of the work provide enough information to leave the viewer to allow his imagination to fill in the blanks.
Timothy Brooke remains one of Kenya’s highest selling artists. Working almost exclusively in oil paint, this artist paints the Africa which is vanishing before our eyes. ‘Kipsang lugga’ is vintage Brooke. ‘Langata Road’ is an exception in that it portrays our city in transition. Traditional cattle herdsman caught up in busy urban traffic-filled roads as the grazing rights to the land they have held for centuries is ever eroded.
Beatrice Wanjiku and Chelenge Van Rampelberg are both Kenyan women whose work provokes strong emotion. Chelenge has long been working on a series using primates to illustrate everything from domestic violence to the maternal instinct. ‘The Master’ is one of the quieter protagonists of her inquiry. The same cannot be said for the two works by Beatrice, both from her ‘Strait jacket series’, both depicting the frustration and horror of being constrained both literally and metaphorically.
Anthony Okello is a wonderful oil painter whose work covers a wide range of subject matter. With his mug shot series he is playing with the measurements made by the police of facial features, when they photograph a suspect. Often his works have an undertone of deception or farce. James Mbuthia in contrast is considered the ‘Chagall of Kenya’. He paints idyllic scenes of Kenyan rural life. In this painting, he depicts the local shoemaker who, as the adage goes, is himself shoeless. And speaking of an ideal, Peter Elungat continues his portrayal of beautiful women with his painting “The power of grapes”. All this painters’ works have an ecclesiastical / renaissance resonance to them. We can only wonder how a Teso painter from the Ugandan / Kenyan border comes to mix his paint in the exact same way as Rembrandt did in the seventeenth century, using his canvas as the palette, whilst he sings opera!
Whilst Ehoodi Kichapi must acknowledge Jean Michel Basquiat as a primary influence, his work is so much wittier. He uses numerous local references including the pages ripped from telephone directories, complex botanical names for plants, the leaflets from local pharmaceutical boxes and snippets of Kiswahili. Humour is something he shares with Harrison Mburu. Harrison works exclusively in riveted metal. All Harrison's animals are characters and without fail, they bring smiles to the viewer’s faces. His two laughing Giraffes are no exception.
Business Daily - 25-02-2016 - Kenyan art truly on the cutting edge
Preview of Works
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