HYPER-REALISM AT THE DUSITD2

When I walked into the Den at the DusitD2 which is  the new location of the Pop Art Gallery I immediately knew it would be a treat,the exhibition had changed locations and anyone who drives into the cul de sac that is 14 River Side cannot miss it.,it is held every last Saturday of the month from 11am-6pm. During these 7 hours you get to meet some amazing Kenyan artists,see their work and hopefully I hope you can engage them on their work which is something I do every time.

The Den’s over head and natural lighting make it  perfect for displaying  art  work and can accommodate more artists and art work.Immediately I walked in  I was drawn to the far left side of the room by what I thought looked like photos..wait I thought this was  an art exhibition…I would soon be pleasantly surprised when I  met Lee Gitahi a hyper realist.

Lee  Gitahi is a student at Kenyatta University he is exceptionally talented and the art form he has taken, hyper realism is extremely rare in Kenya and only goes to underline his talent.Hyper realism is defined as an art form that mimics high definition photography.

He started out doing pencil work and was really good at it till his lecturer took them out on a trip and challenged him to try painting and see how it would go.He did and 6 months later it is hard to tell that he has not been painting for longer than that.

Hyper realism is extremely painstaking , very detailed , involving and at first Lee faced disbelief when he put out his work ,no one believed that the work was his and not a very good digital copy.I also could not get over the fact that his paintings look surreal,I had to touch them and repeatedly I had to catch myself ,touch my fingers to the painting to confirm that indeed it was an oil painting on canvas.

My favorite work of his which unfortunately was sold already was of this elderly Maasai lady in some really swanky sunglasses.The detail in that work as well in another similar photo of an elderly man in his beaded earrings is simply stunning,he has captured all the lines of age  and the stories their faces tell exceptionally well.

Hyper realists are extremely rare and a piece could take anywhere from 2 or 3 months to complete which makes pieces by artist like Lee carry a high price tag . If you are an art collector ,pieces like these are worth every cent you spend and once you have them up on your wall they will from great conversation pieces at your dinner parties.

 

The mix of artist at the exhibition was eclectic and among them was  Otto Gohole who was exhibiting for the first time , from his work you can see his obsession with the palette knife,lines,structure and vehicles.He was exhibiting for the first time  and is  a student as well  in his second year at the University.He uses a palette knife for all of  his work and I was taken in  by his Beach scene painting that used just blue and red which  I thought was a very clever use of complementary colors.

Otto Gohole’s work

It is interesting to see the revolution taking place in the Kenyan art space and it is quite intriguing as well to see the fascination as well as the increase by artists in not just painting wildlife but in people as well as in life around them.

Lee Gitahi’s detailed work of the elderly Maasai man and woman which I would dare say are exceptional pieces of work I hope will  open doors for artists to see the richness and diversity of our culture and to use them as sources of inspiration for their work.

 

 

 

THE POP ART GALLERY AT dusitD2:A SPACE FOR KENYAN ARTISTS

 

Katanu Kay (right) and Santina Nyagah CEO -Maridadi Life (left )

“Art when used well is a powerful , creative force that can change how we see ourselves,the world around us and how we respond to the challenges life throws at us.”

Art has been with us for millenia,for as long as we have had human beings on earth ,we have had art and an appreciation of art is a skill that is as a result of exposure.

The art  scene in Nairobi has become very vibrant and this activity   is what is attracting global attention to the city’s art scene.This vibrancy has been fuelled by a  burgeoning and  educated middle class as well as the high number of expatriates who live in the city who have beome very appreciative of the talent that  resides in the city and its environs.

With no distinct  home-grown art event ,the pop up trend has created an opportunity for artists to showcase their work to an appreciative local and international audience .

dusitD2 has filled this lack of a home-grown art event with the  pop art gallery exhibition  held at its upmarket location on 14,Riverside Drive.

The art exhibition  held every last Saturday of the month  has    a children’s  corner which runs concurrently with the exhibition and is  a partnership with Capital Kids club and  offers  an opportunity for children to get art lessons while  parents  enjoy the art work  from  very talented artists.

Kenyans are not avid consumers of art and through this  collaboration with Google Kenya ,dusitD2 is offering Kenyan artists the space to exhibit and sell their  art as well as   promoting  an  appreciation of art which offers an opportuity  for  artists to  earn a living through the sale of their  work.

On this particular Saturday the artists whose works were on display were:

  • Ssegujja Godfrey
  • Victor Binge
  • Katanu Kay
  • Ronnie Tindi
  • Jak Katarikawe
  • Sam Githui
  • Louis Chvetsova

 

I was very taken by the work of Katanu Kay which incorporated Kitenge fabric ,of particular interest to me was her work Euphoria 2 . We stood in front of that painting  talking about art , what inspires her and in that half hour I forgot she was just 1 month shy of her 20th birthday and that she  had  been exhibiting for just 2 years and  a month . Thanks to the exhibition,which  attended last year for the first time,  her work had found its way to   art collectors  in South Arica,Nigeria,the US and Australia.

 

Euphoria 2 is as a result of  a meeting with a lady who after seeing her work on Euphoria 1 asked for an exact copy of that particular piece.Katanu ,however does not do replicas of her work  and asked if  she could do something different ,the client agreed and the result is Euphoria 2.The two pieces ,Euphoria 1 & 2 are  inspired by the same thing ,a celebration of Katana’s African heritage and culture. It is her desire  that through her work  people take every   opportunity to  embrace being African and to  celebrate it.

She is a graduate   of the  BTEC Art and Design program at Brook House school and is headed to SCAD where she will be pursuing  her   studies in  Fine Art & Interior Design which she wants to pursue up to   PhD  level.

Art for Katanu  is a channel that  she uses to express herself , her ideas and it is a platform to share these ideas with the world.She would love that through her art people are able to ask questions,explore ideas and think outside the box of what society terms as the norm and that through this we develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of each other.

It is why she took the very unusual route of incorporating African fabric in her art work – which I thought was such a  great   conversation starter  on her work and what inspires her.

Read:African fabric making its presence on global runways.

When it was time for me to leave ,I found myself on the terrace of the Soko restaurant   thinking about what an amazing point in time it was to be alive,to hear artists like Katana talk about her   hope to have her work exhibited at the New York Art Gallery .

Thanks to dusitD2, this is not the last we have heard of this young lady and all the other equally talented artists who have found a  space to exhibit their art  work as well given an opportunity for Nairobi residents to enjoy local art.Before leaving,I  made a quick trip back to the exhibition to have one last look and some pieces had already been marked as sold and set aside  which only goes to  emphasise the quality of the work on display.

 

Look out for the next edition of the Pop Art Gallery on the last Saturday of this coming month of February and get ready to sample  great art and food .

See you there!