By Abdi Ali
Published November 14, 2017
“I like to imagine and paint what would happen to the subjects in my work if they had to work through different situations,” says the artist who kicked off his career as a photographer, sign-writer, and painter of calabashes. “Throughout this process, I look to strip apart the visual scene that emerges in my mind and put it back together in ways that reveal many different layers of reality.”
Meet Moses Nyawanda who is currently holding a solo exhibition titled Demigods and the Demagogues in the Creativity Gallery at Nairobi National Museum, November 10 – 30, 2017.
“My medium of choice is oils. Over the years, I have developed a style of painting where l use a palette knife to produce layers and layers of paint so the work ends up looking like it was done with pastels,” says Nyawanda, holder of a diploma in fine arts. “I’m currently working with vibrant yet earthy colours and with people or animals as my subjects.”
Nyawanda, whose work is on exhibition at Cultural Stopovers Kenya, a Kenya-Honduras art show at Galleria Shopping Mall in Karengata, says he enjoys exploring themes such as interaction between people or animals as they are put into stories or situations in his work.
“These storylines are usually informed by current events or personal experiences; some true, some imaginary. I’ve investigated love, dating, relationships, sexuality, generational divides, politics, corruption, technology and fear. I tackle these in various series,” says Nyawanda, the last born in a family of eight siblings.
He says he has held many solo shows, won several art prizes and been an artist in residence at local art initiatives Kuona Trust, the GoDown Arts Centre and the Railway Museum Art Studio during the 15 years of his career.
“As part of giving back to society,” Moses Nyawanda, who says he now works from his home studio and shows his work around East Africa and the world, says “I work with the Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health (TICAH) in Nairobi where I paint murals with positive messages for communities and mentor young artists.”
Apparently, TICAH has two exhibitions at Nairobi National Museum and Uhuru Gardens, November 10, 2017-January 31, 2018.
The two shows, titled Urembo (Beauty) and Hekima (Wisdom), are accompanied by lectures, classes, ceremonies, and discussions focusing on the links between culture and healing.
“While Urembo explores beauty – symbols, colours, designs, and their meanings over time,” says Mary Ann Burris, Founding Director of TICAH in a press statement, “Hekima seeks to demonstrate the depth and diversity of scientific and historical knowledge.”
Among the public events lined up are Symbols and Meaning discussion with Yassir Ali and Mary Ogembo, Mosaics with Eric Manya, Printmaking with Eunice Wadu, Sculpting with Clay with Gerald Olewe, Kenyan Arts Practice talk with Joy Mboya, Painting with Yassir Ali, Weaving with Coastal elders, Drawing with Patrick Mukabi, Music with Kenge Kenge Orutu System and Sculpting with Alex Wainaina.
The various events accompanying the two exhibitions are hosted by elders, musicians, artists, and TICAH Youth for Peace. They are on hand to answer questions, receive groups, or share their knowledge on music, folktales, arts, wisdom, and appreciation of culture.