ART: Yearning for his mother major theme in Karekezi's pieces

Saturday July 25 2020

The Queen of Kings, by Willy Karekezi. PHOTO | IRADUKUNDA ISAAC


Willy Karekezi has made a name for himself as a visual artist, artivist, live painter, muralist, body painter and metallic sculptor.

He is the founder of Indiba Arts Space and has gathered a following in Rwanda, Africa and across Europe.

Born in 1994 in Zambia to a Congolese mother and a Rwandan father, he moved to Lubumbashi when he was a year old with his mother after his parents divorced, before joining his father in Kigali two years later.

He didn’t see his mother again for the next 16 years, and hence his mother became a recurring theme in his work. When he was 19 years old he went to Congo to visit her for a month and that was the last time he saw her as she passed away soon after.

Willy grew up in Rugando, a modest neighbourhood in Kigali where he used art as a way to express his thoughts. He began drawing and would often sketch caricatures in between classes.

“I was fortunate enough to meet Jean Bosco Bakunzi and started working with his gallery called Uburanga. That is where I really began to grow. As I expressed myself further through paintings and sculptures, I found that what mattered most wasn't the beauty of the work but what I was saying,” he says.


"I love history and wanted to showcase the life of African people. As an artist, I feel it is my responsibility to teach people, spark debate and make them question things,"he said.

Through Indiba Arts Space, which Karekezi founded in 2019, he is giving artists a platform to showcase their work and a chance to meet, share and collaborate with other artists. He is also mentoring young artists and curating exhibitions.