Brugger's 'Once in a Blue Moon' coming to the Kuona Gallery

Thursday February 24 2022

Artwork by Martin Brugger. PHOTO | COURTESY


When artist Martin Brugger was 17, and a Swiss exchange student at a Pennsylvania high school, he accidentally scored a goal in a football game and ended up making his first appearance in the local newspaper.

"For some reason," Brugger says, "the cub stringer for the paper captioned the photograph as ‘Todt Martin, Swiss exchange student.’ I was useless at football, but because I was Swiss, the American coach assumed I must be good at soccer and signed me into the team without trials."

The way Brugger tells the tale — he now lives in Diani at Kenya's coast and paints by the sea — captures the man’s artistic sense.

"I saw the sphere of the ball come towards me, shot out the cylinder of my right leg, and shot it into the cube of the goalposts."

These are the four human forms, according to the artist.

"Since the Greek Pythagoras broke all three dimensional shapes into these four forms," he says, "my work is centred around them — cubes, spheres, pyramids, cylinders — the four engines of art that capture our world."


Brugger says painting is more about "internal" levels, and says he works while in a kind of trance.

"I paint so that I do not have to talk," he says.

Brugger has something new up his sleeve in the collaboration Once in a Blue Moon, with foreign and local artists.

On February 22, the exhibition will be launched at the Kuona Trust Gallery, at 2.22 pm. Being his 60th birthday, Brugger, who is a numerologist, sees the show as not just a project for the public, but his private present to friends as well.


Swiss interface artist Steffen Schmidt explains the significance of the "blue moon" in this show.

"In general, we experience the moon in white, aristocratic and distant. Sometimes one is lucky to catch an orange moon, like an enormous fruit in the sky, with beams of sunset in it. But symbolically, people have experienced red moons, and in a time of war, the orb seems to bleed as if mirroring the disaster happening on earth.

"But the blue of the moon, rare it is, is the jewel of different colours, giving meaning to a person. Like a sad singer in a café bar, saved from loneliness, and living for the promise of everlasting love ."

The Kenyan artists paint from the "blue moon" theme.


5chairs by Martin Brugger. PHOTO | COURTESY

In Nicholas Maina’s 27cm by 32cm acrylic on canvas, we see the picture of a fed-up looking woman, with a baby and cloth bundle on her back, leaving her husband’s homestead by the light of a blue moon. Rebecca Ndunde Bulimo, a woodcut printer — who has participated in art residencies in Kampala, Tafaria Castle and Rika — shows neglectful grown-up offspring with the playful telephone woodcut titled Call your Mother.

Elnah Akware, with a major in Sculpture Art from Kenyatta University has her Kuku of hen and moon cockerel.

And Mercedes Zibiah Nyagaya, a private practice hand illustrator and painter, exhibits a 42cm by 49cm oil on canvas that is a spherical UFO beaming a cylinder of light on pyramid-shaped houses.

Brugger will display one piece, a large painting that he did during the Covid-19 isolation period.