High costs of materials drive artists to be more innovative

Thursday February 03 2022
Innocent Buregeya

Innocent Buregeya at his first Mixed Media Exhibition in 2012. PHOTO | ANDREW KAZIBWE


Rwanda’s Innocent Buregeya’s works are challenging the local mainstream art scene after the Covid-19 pandemic forced artists in the region to become more creative and innovative.

His mix-media collection, occupying one section of Iteme Art Space’s wall in Kigali, attests to how recycled material can creatively craft beauty.

But, this isn’t Buregeya’s first attempt at this form. Unlike most contemporaries who work with acrylics on canvas, he announced his entrance into the visual art scene in 2012 experimenting with recycled materials like wire mesh, old toothbrushes, rubber products and other waste materials, which he assembled on wood and canvas, to emerge with unique mix-media artworks.

Conservation theme

That most tools for producing art are imported and therefore expensive, recycling of waste materials is considered an ideal way for innovative craft.


Artist uses waste material he recycles into beauty.


Created as part of the previously held joint exhibition titled Let us Bee Together, that featured other established Rwandan artists, the collection’s style is an attraction.

Buregeya’s artworks reflect the general theme of conservation through the recycled material.

Onto little canvases, with acrylic, he paints semi-abstract images of African women. These are further embossed to livelier images by the use of old wire mesh, wires, toothbrushes, tins, bottle tops, paper, and glue to modelled works.

African woman’s solidity

The artist further breathes life into these models by applying paints, and emerges with representational images of African women.

His framing of the artwork gives them a definitive finishing.

This collection centers around the African woman, who with pride stands out when well ornamented. The artist strongly believes in the African woman as a solid symbol of great transformation towards positive change.

In 2016, his exhibition Conscious Mind was created with only watercolours on canvas. The same was reflected in his 2017 exhibition A Night to the Moon, which was a revolutionary departure in style.