Rwandan art – Opening Eyes through Public Artworks

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Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga (translated: To Create, To See, To Learn) is an expression-focused, public art project. It uses visual and street arts to address social issues in Rwanda. Its aim is to further the world of Rwandan art. Read more about the initiative here.

Jean Baptist Mpunghire is an artist working with abstract paintings inspired by Rwandan patriotism. His paintings use lots of colors with acrylic paint on canvas. He also creates metal works and sculptures. Below is his story.

 

Jean Baptise and his artworks

Jean Baptise and his artworks

 

My Entry into Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga

I joined the Kurema initiative since late 2013. I joined with an interest to gain new skills and knowledge regarding Rwandan art, especially public art. I was very interested in mural making and painting using spray cans, so it was perfect.

Working with the team offers me an opportunity to meet other artists. I get to meet leading international muralists and graffiti artists. Kurema also gives me an opportunity to work in the public. This is not normally easy to do as an individual in the Rwandan art world.

This project is brings arts and community together, and it recognises that arts can share a message. We see that when we create a mural on the street, people become curious about the message behind the artworks. This makes me excited as an artist, because people are learning and feeling something through an experience that our art created. Kurema gives a chance for Rwandan art to be amidst the public, where it reaches more people than galleries.

 

When little pieces of art creates a meaningful story

When little pieces of art creates a meaningful story

Opening Eyes through Rwandan Art in Public

The Kurema art project is creating change.

Rwandans are trying to understand that public art is possible. I know people within the city are seeing and loving these works of Rwandan art in public.

Our work raises awareness on different social issues. I remember when we were painting a “Positive Living” mural in Huye (a city in the south of the country) about fighting HIV-related stigma, many people were asking us what it was. We tried to explain the message within the mural. Many people passing by would stop to take their time and watch us work, to better understand what we were doing. Not every person is going to stop and engage with our art, but many different people will take the time and try to understand.

This art outreach to the public is very important to me. Someday, I hope it can help decrease the problem of unemployment by giving talented people the opportunity to create their own jobs and work for themselves. I believe that the more entrepreneurs we have in society, the bigger the arts community will grow.

With Kurema, I’m positive that we are beginning to see positive change in the world of Rwandan art.

 

 

Biography

Jean Baptiste (JB) is 31 years old and he’s been painting for five years. He is a self-taught artist, based at Ivuka Arts Kigali. He started by cleaning the studio, using leftover paints, and slowly developed a style that is now popular and very successful. JB is married with two children.

More of his work can be seen on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jean-Baptiste-Mpungirehe/1649002398655764

 

Interview and photo credit: Judith Kaine for Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga