Diverse mediums and themes go beyond the image

Saturday October 6 2018

Freedom by Deng Ajuech-Nak, and right,

Freedom by Deng Ajuech-Nak, and right, Karolina, by Njugu Kuria. PHOTOS | KARI MUTU 

By KARI MUTU
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A technology company in Nairobi has a new contemporary art space.

Beyond the Image is the first art exhibition at the offices of Merita Technologies, an IT and software development company.

Beyond the Image is part of a planned series of shows. It presents four different artists using diverse mediums and themes.

James Dundi Obat, 24, works in paint, metal and leather. He is showing three-dimensional metal works made from tin scraps stitched together like patchwork using metal wires, and varnished. His technique is unique and no doubt a laborious creative process.

He displays wall art of musicians, the front facade of a vintage vehicle, and a tender mother-and-child portrait.

Njugu Kuria, 25, has made a niche for himself by recycling old-fashioned vinyl records into art. “Spontaneous creativity” is what he calls it.

At the show, large canvas boards are pasted with dozens of small, single-record albums that form the Spirit Voices, a series on old music. Kuria writes, “Vinyl records are here to stay, this form of artwork is a celebration not a defacement.”

In other works, he uses broken pieces of records to create female images, some of them with prominent Nefertiti style headdresses.

Abdul Kipruto, from the Brush Tu arts collective in Nairobi, takes on social issues, especially around fairness and emotion. His woodcut prints on paper depict mostly young urban people in monochrome colours.

I found Deng Ajuech-Nak’s paintings the most interesting. Born in South Sudan and resident in Kenya, Ajuech-Nak is displaying his figurative paintings from the Freedom series.

They are made from acrylic and old newspaper, and painted in shades of brown, blue and maroon on white backgrounds.

His work tells of his past experiences during the South Sudan civil war and what is happening now in the country. They radiate emotion, strong facial expressions and exaggerated body postures as though the person is in mid-dance or going through a painful experience.

Merita Technologies opened the gallery at it’s Nairobi office last month to promote local artists, especially lesser-known names. Beyond the Image continues until October 12.