News / Africa

Kenyan Artwork Growing in International Popularity

Jill Craig

Long overlooked on the international arts scene, Kenya is finally gaining prestige on the world stage. Some artists can now make their living entirely from artwork and collectors are coming from around the world to buy it.

Works by Kenyan artists are exhibited around the globe.  World-class galleries cater to foreigners and other Kenyans.  And the collectors are paying attention.

Born in Kenya, Amyn Abdula now lives in Vancouver.  He has been collecting African art for more than 25 years and has more than 150 pieces.  The majority are from Kenya.  

"The more I saw, the more it appealed to me," said Abdula.  "And I think it was actually, because I had left Africa, and that Africa was still in my heart.  And when I went to North America, or Europe, or wherever, and whenever I saw some African stuff, it sort of appealed to me."

Collectors anticipate that Kenyan art will soon become as popular as art from west and South Africa.

Although estimates vary, Kenyan artwork is today selling for an average of 10 times the price it commanded 12 years ago.  And figures are expected to go even higher.

Carol Lees owns the One Off contemporary art gallery in Nairobi.  She knows first-hand how art collectors are starting to appreciate the value in Kenyan artwork.

"We certainly have some great fine art that has its own very strong individual voice, and is as good as anything you'd buy anywhere in the world," said Lees.  "And I think you will see the prices go up quite incredibly in the next eight years.  I've heard a couple of collectors say that the time for East African art is just coming and we need to prepare ourselves."

As for the artists, some are becoming household names in the art world.

Peterson Kamwathi is one of Kenya's most well-known contemporary, or so-called second-generation artists.  One painting can now fetch more than $10,000.

"I used to have a part-time job," said Kamwathi.  " I kind of had to step down.  So, I've been living fully off art.  So, can I make a living off art?  I'm still here.  So yeah, maybe, yes."

Like their counterparts around the world, Kenyan artists are telling a story of their culture, political struggles, family life, or just social commentary.

Richard Kimathi is another popular second-generation artist who depicts Kenyan struggles and triumphs through his art.

"I think everything counts," noted Kimathi.  "From the people to the politics to the social life.  It's sort of a combination of all those things.  And then with my own sort of creation.  You know, my ideas, I fuse with whatever surrounds me."

And like Kamwathi, Kimathi's name recognition allows him to make his living solely from selling his artwork.

Kenya's burgeoning art industry is attracting collectors from around the world who are interested in its long-term investment opportunities.

But others, like Abdula, have a different reason for collecting Kenyan art.

"Africa.  I was born here.  It all goes back to my soul.  It talks to me.  I understand it," said Abdula.

And in Kenya, this voice seems to be talking more and more.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid