Motions and emotions come alive on canvas

Saturday September 8 2018

A painting by Miguelle Mahuton.

A painting by Miguelle Mahuton. PHOTO | COURTESY OF MIGUELLE MAHUTON 

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Artist Miguelle Mahuton, of Benin and resident in Kenya, puts her inner feelings on canvas.

Her gallery in Nairobi, called Motions and Emotions is hung from floor to ceiling with abstract expressionist images.

The emotions that motivate her come from observations of people and life in general. She is also inspired by the natural world.

“When I travel, that is what I’m looking for — a natural place and strong emotions from that,” says the self-taught Mahuton, who has been painting since childhood.

To appreciate her work requires an open mind so that you are not constantly searching for something objective. I saw pictures with broad swirls in warm, earthy colours that made me think of sunsets, azure and ocean greens in a number of paintings are reminiscent of the sea or a cloudless nightscape. Sunshine seems to burst through a rainbow-coloured palette.

Feelings of the moment free of any constraints also arouse Mahuton’s creative juices. She speaks to everyday experiences such as life’s ups and downs in the painting Falling and Getting Up.

When there is no specific emotion at play she will use colours without method and let them express themselves. In her gallery are dynamic works of bold-coloured patches and streaks with no particular structure. These paintings are both bewildering and bewitching.

Throughout, Mahuton stays in the realm of the abstract and allows viewers to make their own interpretations. The canvases are in different sizes. She uses vertical, horizontal and even round formats.

It shows her confidence in exploring different styles rather than being confined to commercially-appealing work. Although her works are titled, sometimes the names feel disconnected and unnecessary since I had already formed my own ideas.

For Mahuton, the creative process is always joyful and therapeutic. The challenge has been in trying to sell and publicise her paintings, especially given her preferred art form. Penetrating the Kenyan market, which is largely driven by realistic art, was initially difficult. But slowly the interest has grown.

“Kenyans like my work; I don’t even need to explain it all the time; they understand it,” she says.