Contemporary Art Nairobi

Roads are wet as we drive out of Nairobi towards Red Hill Art Gallery in Limuru between Banana Hill and Ngecha Village. Rain is hanging in the air and we see the dark skies of thunder threatening in the distance over the green hills and farmlands.

Visual artist Peterson Kamwathi is driving the car, and dancer, choreographer James Mweu, sit in the back and try to fill me in to the development of the Nairobi art scene.

Some years ago the most prominent art gallery, Ramoma, closed down and at the time it seemed like the exhibition possibilities for contemporary artists were becoming very few. But things are changing. The number of visual artists are growing, and there is a confidence in the art scene which is new. There is also quite a few interesting art spaces around Nairobi.

Red Hill Art Gallery is a fairly new space for exhibiting art and started around two years ago by Hellmuth and Erica Rossler-Musch, two former ”healthworkers” as they described themselves, with a great interest in art. During their twenty-five years in different countries in Africa they have collected art work from the most important artists in that region. A dream has been to start a gallery to show their collection, but also to support up-coming artists, and give a possibility to exhibit.

We get a tour among art works from artists such as Jak Katarikawe, Joel Oswago, Kivuthi Mbuno, Rosemary Karuga, Annabelle Wanjiku, and many more.

After the tour we have a cup of tea in the lush green garden, the rain has started to poor around us making a smattering sound as it hits the parasoll, and the conversation is about contemporary art in Nairobi, the scene, the possibilities, the challenges.

In the car back to town heading towards the next gallery, One Off Gallerythe discussion continues.

Art work in the photo by Richard Kimathi. More galleries are Circle Art Agency, Kuona Trust, Banana Hill Gallery, and of course The GoDown Arts Centre.

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Lotta Lekvall
Director of Nätverkstan, a Cultural Organisation in Sweden. Nätverkstan provides services …

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