Wednesday, October 6, 2010

In the beginning…

(An artist’s story as narrated by Michael Soi & Richard Kimathi)

Most people have near perfect stories of how they got to where they are today. For some, it was a fool-proof plan well orchestrated and implemented to the letter. For others, it was a divine calling. This one, as told by Kim & Soi, sounds like stuff out of Hollywood.

In 1997, long before cellular phones and emails were accessible in Kenya, a young man was sent by his family to deliver a very important message to his younger brother who lived 500km away in the city.

The younger brother was an apprentice artist in a communal artists studio shared by about 15 other young artists who were trying to cut a niche for themselves having been locked out of the Gallery Watatu circuit.

It was a tiny space bubbling with energy of young, prolific, rebellious and highly ambitious artists, some from art school, some just rough diamonds; most of whom were bound to go places. It was just a matter of when they’d hit the main circuit big time!

Upon arrival, and delivery of the message, the elder brother decided to spend a couple of days in the city and was only natural he’d hang around the studio.

At the time were the 2 biggest events in the Nairobi art calendar: The East African Industries Art Competition & the Kenya Museum Society Arts Festival, all happening in the same space.

Hanging around the arts and the artist exposed the elder brother to all these ‘amazing’ processes and artworks. Hanging out with Richard Kimathi, who’d just won the most promising artist award, and seeing how easy it was to ‘sell art’ and ‘the life’ the artists lived, led him to make a decision that is still talked about til now.

He resigned from his job, and bought paper to start printmaking the following day!

Fast forward 5, 6 years later…….

Today, the elder brother continues his artistic practice having participated in a handful of solo projects alongside a couple of local and international workshops & residencies and continues to enjoy a reputation as one the most prolific artists in the scene alongside Kim & Soi.

What of the younger brother? That’s a story for another day.

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