A review of the African head wrap

Wednesday March 18 2020

'Head Wrap' by Kibet Kirui II. PHOTO | KARI MUTU

'Head Wrap' by Kibet Kirui II. PHOTO | KARI MUTU 

KARI MUTU
By KARI MUTU
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Kenyan artist Kibet Kirui is celebrating the African woman through a series of portraits called Head Wrap. Painted in acrylics, Kirui’s modern women wear beautiful headscarves.

One painting is of a woman with a red head scarf, flouncy sleeves and blue lipstick, gazing upwards through dark sunglasses. Lips pursed, she presents a bold and brazen attitude. A side portrait has a dark-complexioned woman with a tall blue head wrap. She is holding her neck with a look of anxious or intense thought.

Kirui’s paintings have a balanced composition and he brings out mood and sentiment.

Another painting is a full-length portrait of a woman wearing a long, ruffled off-shoulder gown. Her back is turned to us, but she glances over her shoulder from under a wide-brimmed hat. The painting speaks of shyness or flirtatious coyness.

Kirui studied art at Kenyatta University, but also considers himself self-taught because he has learned by experimenting and studying the work of others.

A different and striking portrait is that of man wearing a straw hat with fringed edges. A slight smile plays about his lips as he looks unabashedly at the viewer from a dark backdrop. The subject would have disappeared into the background except for the light coloured hat, and that Kirui has illuminated one side of his face with bright sunlight.

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Kirui also covers nature, still life, musicians and children using oils, pastels and crayons.