Posts Tagged ‘National Museums of Kenya’

Artists have until October 14 to submit their pieces for this year’s Affordable Art Show which is set to be held at the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) between October 23 and 25. This is an event of the Kenya Museum Society (KMS) aimed at raising funds in support of NMK.


The art show is open to paintings, sculpture and mixed media work. Submissions will be juried. An individual artist can submit a maximum of two pieces, which should not be priced at more than Sh99,000. “Each piece should measure 100cm x 100cm (paintings and sculptures) for easy carrying of the art pieces by buyers,” says the communication signed by Lydia Galavu, the art curator at the museum and Patricia Ithau, who chairs the KMS Affordable Art Show.

The artworks to be submitted must have been created in 2015. Artists can also submit a third, A3 piece priced at Sh10,000.  The opening of the art show will take place in the courtyard behind the Louis Leakey Auditorium on Friday evening, October 23, 2015. The show will continue on Saturday and Sunday until October 25.

Artists’ work should be delivered to the former NMK boardroom at the rear of the courtyard on Wednesday, October 14, between 10am and 3pm. Artists from outside Nairobi who send work by public means,  must ensure that their submissions arrive no later than October 12.

Unsold art must be picked up on October 26, between 10am and 3pm. After that date and time, the art will belong to KMS and will be used to raise further funds for NMK.


That Kenya is teeming with artistic talent came out in the open on the night of Friday October 24 when the Affordable Art Show opened at the National Museums of Kenya. About 300 artists had their works on display at the three-day event organised by the Kenya Museum Society.

New entrants in the visual art world had their works displayed alongside those of established artists, all competing for the attention of buyers keen to acquire reasonably priced art. None of the pieces on display cost more than sh100,000; there were smaller pieces going for between sh6,000 and sh10,000.


Lydia Galavu curator of the Creativity Gallery at the National Museums explained that artistes were required to submit two big pieces and two small ones. The Safaricom and Java sponsored event attracted a full house, with a carnival-like atmosphere. The turn-up was clear testimony that local art has quite some following.

The pieces on display covered a wide spectrum of themes, from the mundane to sophisticated stuff like geopolitics. There are also those who tackled topical issues. David Karibu Karanja had reproduced the iconic picture of Abdul Hajji rescuing a terrified girl at the Westgate Mall armed with only a pistol. Karanja’s piece was selling for sh25,000.

Keen users of Kenya’s social media will by now have come across a picture of a rugged old man, bent almost double by age. This image is routinely tossed into the comments section of pages with wide following, for nuisance value. Here it went by the title Do you have a phone charger please? I wonder if this one got a buyer.

Adrian Nduma

Adrian Nduma

Then there were pieces that were in huge demand. Adrian Nduma’s semi abstract pieces Contempt and Strong were bought even before the event came to a close. Each were going for sh55,000. I am sure if he had more pieces they all would have gone. Next to Nduma’s pieces was Martin Muhoro’s The Wild Vision, which an observant collector remarked looked like it had been done by veteran Yoni Waite, to which Wangechi, the curator at The Nairobi Gallery agreed.

Speaking of impressionable artists Leonard Ngure’s Dagoretti Market and Kinyua Kimani’s Heroes would easily be confused with something that Joseph Bertiers did. Seeing my dilemma, Lydia said they both are students of Bertiers. Clearly, here is an artist keen to mentor the next generation of artists. Bertiers himself had two pieces, namely Cat Painting and Caught in the Act.

Joseph Bertiers Caught in the Act

Joseph Bertiers Caught in the Act

Caught in the Act depicted the clergyman who, a month ago was in the news having been caught with another man’s wife in a lodging. Trust Bertiers, whose work is full of sexual imagery, to pounce on such a topic. In the painting, the nearly naked woman sits on a bed with a cat between her legs – hint! Hint! while the ‘pastor’ had an unpeeled banana and a rungu somewhere between his legs. Does the unpeeled banana represent the fact that the union had not yet been ‘consummated’ by the time the two were caught?

There was another master/teacher team; that one of Eric Wamagata and his teacher Lexander Mbugua. Both had done miniature impressions of Lamu/Zanzibar doors. Interestingly, by the end of the event it is the pupil’s more elaborate ‘door’ that had attracted the attention of a buyer.

Michael Soi, persisted with his theme of sex tourism, an issue tourism authorities are keen to keep under wraps. Weighing my Options featured a Kenyan woman torn between two white men, while I love Diani had a randy white old man tagging at the strings of a bikini-clad African woman.

Culture CS Hassan Wario, who was the chief guest at the event revealed that his ministry has prepared a cabinet memorandum that would see the establishment of a National Art Gallery to give ‘Kenyan art a permanent home’. Also in the pipeline, said the CS, was a ‘vibrant Art Department’.

The Kenya Museum Society (KMS) is a volunteer organization founded in 1970 by a group who included Richard Leakey and Hilary N’gweno, to support the Nairobi Museum. The Affordable Art Show was an event of the Society
from the mid-1990’s when it was held in conjunction with the annual visual and performing Art
Festival.  After a 7-year hiatus the Show was revived last year in response to artists’
requests and popular demand.  The 2013 show raised more than 500,000 shillings which the Society donated for storage structures and the restoration of certain pieces of the Permanent Art Collection.

Below is a press statement from the Network of Kenya Visual Artists (NKVA), who will be holding an exhibition, at the National Museums of Kenya starting Tuesday May 21 to June 4, 2013, titled Unsellable Art


50 years on; it is about time that visual arts in Kenya had a vital voice for good governance

Since its inception with collaboration of the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs through one of their initiatives, the Non State Actors Support Programme (NSA – NET), together with the European Union and the National Museums of Kenya, the Network of Kenya Visual Artists (NKVA) became the first national network ever put together by visual artists.

NKVA has come at the right time with the ushering in of a new government. A key agenda of the new government is job creation. The NKVA realizes this quest, and more so because it is embracing the concept of collective action for more economic empowerment. By sharing information, communicating better and finding viable solutions to artists’ common challenges, the network hopes to create more demand for art as well as sensitize the general population about art, for better engagement and business.

NKVA convinced that the myth that art is expensive can be addressed by repackaging it and also communicating the same to the target market. The quest for aesthetics in homes is intensifying especially with the expanding middleclass and therein lies the market that needs to be satisfied.

This power of unity amongst Kenyan artists will serve to protect the Kenyan artist from exploitation by middlemen and also encourage upcoming artists to pursue art as a career that can generate continuous and predictable income.

NKVA will use the one year it will be under the umbrella of NMK to reach out to all visual artists nationally and establish regional links. The exhibition questions where art in Kenya is today as Kenya prepares her jubilee celebration of 50 years.

This art exhibition “Unsellable Art” is an exhibition of extreme expressions by artists that address matters that touch on society and the individual. The concept is what is being referred to as ‘unsellable’ because normally people want to buy a piece of art that is ‘nice’ and beautiful with happy themes. Nobody wants to buy a painting that will remind them of injustices and other ‘uncomfortable’ issues of society. Unsellable does not mean the art works are ugly, on the contrary they are very beautiful pieces, strong and done by some of the top artists in Kenya. It is when one looks closely that they see the theme.

 The artists were given the freedom to showcase those pieces of art that they feel have a story behind them. Each art piece is accompanied by a caption so that the audience will be able to explore and interrogate the mind of the artist. Similar exhibitions by NKVA in the regions are taking place at Mombasa (Alliance de Mombasa 17 May – 7 June) and Kisumu Museum (25 May – 8 June)