The second cohort of residents at the Brush Tu residency program recently presented to art enthusiasts about their artwork and experience in the program. The event moderated by AIR Brush program manager Michael Musyoka sort to expose the contemporary artists and their artwork to the audience. It ultimately consisted of an introduction to not only the contemporary artists, but also to the art scene in their respective countries, and art as a business. The residents were Timothy Wandulu (Rwanda), and Lionel Yamadjako (Benin), Stacey Okparavero (Nigeria).
“Art is to enlighten the viewer and engage them in a concept that takes form from a combination of styles.” stacy okparavero
Timothy Wandulu opened the session, speaking about his background as an artist in Uganda who eventually moved to Rwanda for personal reasons. While in Rwanda he continued to practice as an artist. His artwork focuses on social set ups such as politics, and immigration. He has recently begun to focus on himself as a subject, in terms of how he sees himself and how others see and relate him.
Timothy observes individuals in society and works to understand more of their struggles initially through researching more on his topic of interest, after which he explores it further through his artwork. A perfect example of the same is his artwork that focuses on breast cancer awareness. He once met a lady who suffered from the disease without informing others about what she was going through. This intrigued him to look into breast cancer as a subject matter further.
Though he has never held an exhibition in an art gallery as he largely exhibits in schools, or on the streets; he believes as long as his work has been viewed wherever it is presented, it will make an impact.
The next resident was Beninois Lionel Yamadjako who is a painter and photographer. He initially gained artistry through working with a mentor during school holidays. He eventually moved into technical school where he trained to work in construction but later chose to focus specifically on art as a career.He works with several themes such as immigration, slavery and bondage. He relishes his freedom, and is not fearful of what the audience thinks of his artwork as long as it personally satisfies him.
“Oil Painting” Lionel Yamadjako
Aside from his mentorship while young, he mostly has developed his artistic skills through workshops and has attended a large number in several countries such as Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger, Ghana and Senegal. At the time of this presentation, he was preparing to attend yet another residency in Congo Brazzaville.
He does not consider art school in Benin to be a priority as the schools tend to focus on literature as opposed to creating actual works of art. Lionel’s main goal is to heal people through art, which he wants to tie to his spirituality and culture. In terms of living off of his art, given the lack of solid platforms through which he can exhibit, he has taken an entrepreneurial approach and fully embraced social media to sell his work.
The final presentation was by Stacey Okparavero, the only female resident in the cohort. She is a multidisciplinary artist who works with painting, performance art, film and also happens to be a curator. She is passionate about creating art that transcends cultural boundaries and believes art is more than aesthetic value but can translate change and impact society. Stacey’s has worked on several series which include, “We the Kings”, “ Women Wonder”, “Outside looking in”, and “Catharsis”.
Her series, “We the kings” targeted artists. She believes that artists need to take ownership and facilitate change in themselves and their surroundings. The artist needs to recognize that they are the centerpiece of the entire art ecosystem and without them it would not exist. “Women wonder” explored issues that resonate with many women living in a patriarchal society that trivializes women’s feelings and their basic rights. This work was inspired by a tragic event that claimed the life of one of Stacey’s friends.
“Outside looking in” expresses her experience being a foreigner in Kenya and the challenges the local people experience as seen through the eyes of a foreigner, while “Catharsis” reflects on healing. It draws inspiration from Marina Abramovic as well as her Stacey’s personal yoga practice. Stacey has curated work, and shown her art in several exhibitions and platforms including the Dak’Art Biennial.
The diversity of the artists at the Brush Tu residency program will culminate in a show based on their works while at the program to be held at the Kobo Trust Exhibition hall on 21st September 2017.