By Sharon Atieno Onyango
Published October 9, 2015
Three Nairobi-based Sudanese painters whose group exhibition is running at Nairobi National Museum’s Creativity Gallery, talked about their work with art lovers on September 18, 2015.
Yassir Ali Eldalaty, Fawaz Elsaid and Magdi Adam showcased colourful and vibrant paintings on Sudanese life, history and identity September 8-30, 2015..
Saying they draw inspiration for their work from their culture and surroundings, Eldalaty, Adam and Elsaid said Sudan has more than 400 tribes each of which has its own cultures.
Like the diversity of the Sudan itself, the painters are from different tribes and cultures and hence their working style is also different.
While Yassir Ali’s paintings depict the Nubian culture, motifs, colours and atmosphere, those of Magdi Adam are about cultural dances from different tribes in the African countries—Uganda, Egypt, Kenya and Ethiopia—he says he has been to.
Magdi Adam said he hopes to awaken an appreciation of the differences and diverse reactions, and provoke a reflection to the shared foundation of mankind through his work.
The ‘Artist Talk’ raised various issues about African art. For instance, Yassir Ali complained that the Sudanese Art School he went to did not teach ‘African art’.
A lecturer of fine arts in attendance explained that universities do not deal with ‘African art’ as a discipline because “there is little documentation of African art.”
Lydia Gatundu-Galavu, the Curator of Contemporary Art at NNM, explained that “contemporary art in Kenya started in 1958 but no publications have been officially made. This is a big challenge in the fine art industry because it seems there is neglect of the fine art in Africa.”
Magdi Adam said the government of Sudan did not seem to care about art as there are no art galleries or even exhibitions to showcase art. He also complained about civil strife and inadequate facilities in learning institutions that, he said, limit the experience of art students.
The three artists said that Kenya has a lot to offer and that that is why they shifted to Nairobi that, they said, “has a lot of space to showcase art through many galleries, exhibitions and art centres.” They noted that Nairobi also has a better market for their art works due to the presence of mostly foreigners who appreciate art, something that further raised the question of why local black Kenyans do not buy a lot of art compared to white foreigners; it wasn’t answered!
Gatundu-Galavu said NNM is putting up lots of effort in supporting and promoting art and its appreciation in the country.
“We are developing and nurturing talent through our art gallery which was set up to showcase various art works,” she said. “We also have a programme called Artists in Residence through which we train up-and-coming artists.”
She urged the artists, scholars and lovers who attended the Artist Talk to use art in educating society and encouraged team-work among them in order to progress and achieve this noble goal.