Rarely do visual artists base their work on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. It could be out of fear of losing buyers or lacking a space to showcase their work.
However, Willy Karekezi is one such artist who has found inspiration for his paintings from this sad theme.
His first painting, done in acrylics, is titled Standing for Ourselves and depicts images of the aftermath of the genocide.
At the centre of the painting is an image of a woman holding a baby.
The expression on her face is that of fear, as she holds her baby tightly. There are other images of young people with similar sad expressions.
The woman is the main figure in the painting because Karekezi feels that women endured a lot of pain during and after the genocide.
The genocide was characterised by murder, rape, lost children and extreme poverty. But there is also hope as the country rebuilds.
“As a young person, I am standing up for something, against the fear that resulted from this tragedy,” said the artist.
The artist uses a mix of different colours for the background to depict the past.
Karekezi says he got inspiration from talking with young people who lost their parents in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
He talks about the anger and grief they still feel.
He can somewhat relate with them because he lost his mother to an illness, while they were living in Congo in 1994, and he still feels the pain.
“I too share in the pain of losing a parent at a young age, though it is different for those who lost parents through the brutal violence,” he said.
It is through these experiences that he sets the mood and tone of his paintings.
The artist returned from Austria last month where he spent three months holding exhibitions of his work. He became a sort of ambassador of the country’s culture.
Though sensitive and painful, the experiences of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi should be shared, especially for the process of rebuilding the nation.
Karekezi hopes to create more paintings on a similar theme with an aim of playing a role in the country’s efforts for unity and reconciliation