Today artist Nuru Bahati has launched an online art exhibition titled ‘People Change’. We caught up with him to find more about about the exhibition.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I started drawing at a tender age. I went to Sacred Heart Primary in Mombasa where I enjoyed art and craft as a subject. Then I joined Sacred Heart High School where I did art and Design. Later I joined Buru Buru Institute of Fine Art at in 2003 to study a diploma in fine art in drawing and painting.
June 2006 I joined W.A.P.I words and pictures at the British Council. We would meet every 3rd Saturday of the month from 9 AM- 4 PM. We would work around themes of social awareness, all genres of the arts and music merged together perfectly.
Through exhibiting my biro work sketches I was able to explore more ideas, create networks meet with other creative artists and exchanged ideas. This has helped me grow as an individual.
Who are you and what do you do?
I am a freelance artist. For the last 3 years I have been focusing on graphic design. I am the one who does the posters for #Fatumasvoice and I also do logistics for the organzation as well, I also work on logo designs for individuals and companies. You can check out my biro work on Facebook.
What is your exhibition about?
The exhibition is about how PEOPLE CHANGE through experiences, situations and relationships. Every time we gain knowledge we transform, our human conditions vary from how we interpret love to how we internalize pain and process the consequences of our choices.
It is about how do we get better by solving our issues, and how we respond under pressure of oppression. It shows how our desires are in an endless battle with our soul.
This is the awaking of the conscious to the raw real truth that surround us.
Why are you having an online exhibition instead of a physical one?
Online is cheaper and reaches a wider audience just by the click of the button of a share. It also helps when you have amazing bloggers as friends, they understand my passion to connect to our different people in other fields apart from the arts to have a feel of the Kenyan art scene.
Also the joy that comes from being the first Kenyan artist to taste the wild waters of the cyber world in such a way is too exciting. Who knows it may reach TEDtalks somehow and open more doors for others also.
Physically is very expensive in terms of financial logistics, most cases when an artist partners with an organization, it ends up the artist is short changed in credits, innovation even livelihood. The artist vision is lost and sometimes the copyrights are taken away. At the end of the day the artist goes home empty handed and bitter at heart, while his/her creation sells millions overseas throughout the years.
Why aren’t you releasing all of the art on one day?
I believe art is the process so if I release all the 33 pieces in one day we’ll miss the essence of online discussions/debate, the human connectivity and the intimacy of art/emotions/feels/moods and memories all wrapped up with a moment of pure aesthetic in one piece.
What messages are you trying to pass across with your images?
The message is where are we? Who are we? What is our spirituality?
We’re so caught up on the next that we forget to appreciate the now and take the chance to understand people and circumstances. If we all took time to listen and forgive one another and always see the good in everyone the world will be a better place to live.
What kind of materials have you used to make your artwork?
Illustrator CS5, silhouettes images from the internet to create a collage of ideas to icons that speak to our normality in daily situations.
What makes your artwork stand out from others?
Any good artwork stirs your emotions, provokes the mind, and creates endless discussions. The fact that every time you look at artworks you get a different perspective of life is already a powerful statement.
Are you selling the paintings or just exhibiting them for people to see them?
Well it would be nice if people donated to the artist via Mpesa 721 267239 because bills have to be paid at the end of the day. It always feels nice that someone has gone an extra mile to guarantee that the sweat and work put to make a masterpiece sustains the artist to propel him/herself to greater heights and also help others along way to obtain the same appreciation.
Your art is black and white. Is there a reason for that?
Simplicity. Black and white has the best contrast and harmonizes very beautifully. The main aim is to zoom in the viewer and concentrate on the visual message of each art piece.
What motivates you to do what you do?
My motivation is God. We should use the talents we’re given to uplift people. Art is a powerful tool for change, look around everything has a pattern, formula or design that is unique. Art is the voice of the people and the sound of God.
What are some of the biggest and most memorable moments so far in terms of your art?
Always pushing the envelope and making it easier for others to do it better than me is the most blessed feeling I get, good vibes and positive energy.
Memorable is when you meet random people in the streets and they tell you how your art has influenced them to strive to do better in what they do.
What are some of the ups and down you’ve faced with your art?
Ups – I am always evolving, always a learner plus the more I try the more I discover new possibilities.
Getting good reviews from the best art critics in the game about your art.
Downs – it’s basically plain and simple, financial muscles to make this exhibition physical on a global scale is a challenge.
Art materials cost a lot and sometimes we get clients who don’t honour their end of the bargain. It’s very disheartening, clients want discounts, friends want cheap art, family want it for free and then they wonder why you’re so talented yet so broke.
Where do you see yourself as an artist in the next ten years?
Honestly I don’t know what will happen a second from now, but God willing I will be supporting artists to achieve their dreams. Helping them financially without them reimbursing me even a cent, it’s all about love, caring and sharing.
Hopefully I will be able to open a hub and get artists to donate one hour for free to teach the
less privileged kids about art.
I want to be touring the world and showcasing my art in every country in the world.
What advice would you give to young artists who are just starting out?
My advice is pray, plan and act. Most of the time no one can see your vision and they cannot hold the passion in you. Learn to listen to your gut feeling and there is nothing like failure while you’re still alive.
Everyone is equally gifted, never run to look for approval but always acknowledge the people who are doing it better than you and anyone who shows improvement.