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Discovering Connections between Kenyan and European Art

Members of the TPAAE research team from the Università di Macerata (UNIMC) continued their exploration of the Kenyan Contemporary Art panorama during their Winter 2022 secondment, visiting artist collectives, galleries studios, and meeting collectors.  UNIMC researchers focused on transcultural connections between Kenyan and European art, interviewing artists and involving them in art education activities.

An analysis of the production of visual artist Evans Yegon, known professionally as Yegonizer, reveals the influence of impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. Whereas each brush stroke by the Dutch painter expresses the sadness and the drama of his life,  Yegonizer communicates the joy of Kenyan life experienced along the streets, in the markets, and in dancing.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Kitheka, a painter based in Karen Village, at present is inspired by the atmospheres created by Dutch master Jan Verneer, whose canvases often portray scenes lit by candles. Working in a style akin to Caravaggism, Kitheka met with UNIMC researchers as he prepared for the 59. Biennale di Venezia.

Anne Mwiti is a well-established painter whose creations employ European expressionism in dialogue both with African landscaping and with other contemporary trends. She will receive her Ph.D. from the Art Academy in Szczecin as part of TPAAE.

Sculptor Peter Kenyanya works on a personal interpretation of Neo-Primitivism, creating artifacts within the context of Afro-Cubism. Begiining in 2006, his sculptures became part of Narobi-bbased collector Mutuma Marangu’s extensive catalgue of rock and stone sculpture. A meeting with Marangu allowed the team to appreciate his large collection and further TPAAE’s cooperation the Mutuma Marangu Art and Sculpture Collection he oversees.

Members of the UNIMC team joined researchers from the National Musem in Szczecin in attending an Art Talk at the Nairobi Contemporary Art Institute on the occasion of a retrospective of works by painter Sane Wadu, a pioneer in the contemporary Kenyan context. Fellow artistic institutions Yony Waite and Gakunju Kaigwa joined Wadu in a conversation on the development of artmaking and the art scene in the country and region.

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