Moses Nyawanda -- Fine Art
Born in 1972, Moses Nyawanda traces his artistic talent to being canned by his Math teacher for sketching him during Math lessons at a tender age of 9. He joined High School where Art was not offered as a subject but he went ahead to design the school’s barge which is still in use today.
Having worked for a year as a library assistant, Nyawanda joined Creative Art Center (Nairobi) in 1993, pursued a three year diploma in Fine Arts after which he worked as a Laboratory assistant for a year at Moi Girls High School (Nairobi) – for he could not afford to pursue art as a full time career. He soon adapted lab tools to his artistic advantage; spatulas for painting, palette knives, scalpels formatting and Petri dishes as palettes.
In September 1997, he held his first solo exhibition with a Christian theme entitled ‘The Call’.
He has since participated in multiple group and solo exhibitions winning him art prizes. He has worked as an art instructor in the Ministry of Culture and Social Services on a rehabilitation of street children program. He is secretary of an upcoming art group called ‘Kipawa Focus’ whose mission is ‘to promote art talent through exposure and other fora for artists. Moses can be described as an artist who started on humble yet weak ground and is focused on seeing that the sprouting artists do not go through the same rough road that he went through.
‘My first contact with art was more like a cruel destiny without another option. Looking back, I now realize that this was a call from God and even now, I do not know what plans He has for me. When I was in Art College, we were taught fine art but when I got out, I found out that Abstract art was selling. I was chased away by gallery owners who preferred self-taught artists with specific kind of abstract art. Other galleries would dictate that an artist paints commercially accepted art, cashing on quick moneymaking and paying peanuts to artists.’
My first solo exhibition gave me the confidence I craved for, I sold one piece out of the 39 I exhibited. I started to avidly look for places to hold shows; meanwhile, I had to look for ways and means of surviving. That is when the idea of painting postcards and T-shirts came to me; they were cheaper to produce. I later joined Kuona Trust exposing me to other artists like me. We were offered space and tea for lunch. My fare and art materials became an issue and I had to leave only to attend their workshops on invitation. The organizers did not take this kindly and thought that there was no goodwill toward the move. Since they were involved organizing shows in the Kenya Museum gallery, my chances of showing my work there became nil.
I went ahead to ask for shows at the French Cultural Centre in Nairobi, and on my 9th request, I was given a solo show. I twice showed my works there. At this time, artists whose works could be promoted were those whose works sold the most. Grouping was the only alternative to survival. We got together and formed a group called ‘Kipawa Focus’ with four colleagues. We are currently sharing a studio with two other artists. I recently attended an International Artists Workshop in Uganda and I must say it was a mind opener to get the freedom that was lacking in my work. My works are on the internet, a major step towards expanding my career. I hope that I will one day be able to help those artists who are still ‘shadow boxing’.
PERSONAL WORK ANALYSIS
My main interest in art is the use of colour and not subject matter. I at times capture the expressions on people’s faces and daily African lifestyles. My art is quite contemporary; I like experimenting and this is why I do not have specific style of painting. My next painting is different from my current one, more of an improvement of the latter. Lines and colour feature permanently in my work; this must have come about as a result of experimenting with cubism 2 years ago.
My message to other artists is paint what you have to paint and paint, paint, paint if you have the material and the talent to go with it. Art is a destiny that one has little or no control over. An artist can run but can not hide; art will always get you.’
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