Reclamations, an exhibition by Ngene Mwaura speaks about the unusual while at the same time unraveling the mysteries in the ordinary life. In this latest exhibition at Artspace Nairobi, Mwaura tries to find closure to what was the lowest point in his life; the loss of his parents.
During the opening of the exhibition on October 1, Mwaura spoke of the love he shared with his family and the support his parents gave him, details about his deeply religious mother, who was practical and initiative, and his atheist father-a philosopher and idealist. The two people who shaped who he became later in life.
Mwaura developed passion for art the age of 12, drawing inspiration from the likes of John Muafangejo and Ndasuunye Shikongeni from Namibia, Vincent Van Gogh (Netherlands), Henry Moore (England), Amadeo Modigliani (Italy), Kivutha Mbuno (Kenya) among others.
He has worked with a number of Kenyan artists, the likes of renowned painter Patrick Mukabi and revered sculptor Wanjohi Nyamu, and had a chance to train at Kenya’s Kuona Trust and further abroad at Glendale community college and Pasedena City College in California, USA.
The talented artist weaves out intricate art that attracts the mind’s eye to new revelations and ideas. His art asks questions that prompt debate. “I go out there to have a conversation,” Mwaura says while he leads the audience into a mesh-work of his art.
His art shows the parental love and espouses the experiences of love and hard work. It opens the doors of two worlds, the religious mother and the open mind of his father. In addition, it canonizes the perspective of storytelling that is the emblem of a philosopher father and a pious mother.
Essentially, the artist loves masks, these are his building blocks. He says, he has studied hundreds of masks and it intrigues him how the essence of human creation has been interred in them. It is these masks that bring to life his amazing pieces. His colors borrow heavily from the African ‘Kitenge’. According to Mwaura, he has always wanted to be a fabric creative, putting together the mask and the fabric in classic artistry.
Mwaura’s art is a modification and the elaboration of traditional masks and African imagery for that vibrant and symbolic art, transporting his audience through time, places, relationships and the people. This displays are stories of his life and character.
In the Reclamations exhibition, the artist showcases most of his recent works from 2013- 2016. The works include titles like ‘The Heavens The Horizons Music- To The Poets God,’ ‘The Empress and The Bee,’ ‘Colour Enlightenment- A Drink From The West,’ ‘Beautiful Bizarre,’ ‘Lost In These Clouds,’ ‘The Keeper of The Bees,’ ‘Part of Me Not Me, Me, We,’ ‘The Guardian and The Vine’ among others.
Mwaura uses acrylics on wood panel and also mixed media on wood panel to producer meticulous art.
Reclamations exhibition runs to October 11.