below with some of his favorite paintings)
Kamuyu was born back in 1972, at a place called Rironi in
Limuru, of Kiambu district, in central province of Kenya. In 1978 he started school at Nyoro
Nursery School and after
two years he started his primary academic for eight years whereby later he
joined Ruiru High School for his secondary education. Unfortunately, after his three years in high school his mother suffered
a stroke. Kamuyu had to drop out from school in order to take care for his younger brothers
and sisters as he is the first born of his family.
After his domestic work every day,
Kamuyu recalled an art interest while in his primary school,
and there he started with sketches which he could later decorate with
different plants leaves, soil, charcoal, and egg yolk. Fortunately enough, his father visited
Shine Tani (another artist featured on this
cousin for financial assistance. Whereby, he was astonished to discover how Shine was earning a living. Kamuyu's father remembering what his son was
doing in art back home. He invited Shine to visit his cousin to see whether
what he doing was for any good or hope. In August 1992, Shine visited Kamuyu and he was impressed
by Kamuyu's work, and encouraged him to continue. Moreover, he took Kamuyu with
him for accommodation in his house and fully supported him with
painting materials, food, and shelter.
After Kamuyu did some few pieces,
Shine selected six of them
and took them to Gallery Watatu, where the late Ruth Schaffner purchased all of
them. Later, Kamuyu took several more and after payment he started living on
Until today Kamuyu lives and works on his own. He has been doing research on
art, trying to search for his unique style of which he has got and satisfied.
works are more of impression of daily lives, culture, and educative. He says
art is his career as he was lucky. Once employed as designer and painter in
Product Design And Development Center which he later quit for his artwork. He
says he will start a design center at the Banana Art Studio for
Kamuyu last year was employed by a Gallery called Ramoma (
Rahimutulla Mesuem Of Modern Art ), as an assistant coordinator of projects -
as example: 'Healing Through Art' at Kenyatta National Hospital and the Art
Market At the Village Market. Kamuyu enjoyed working at Ramoma since it is a
field he belongs in of art.
Art for him is something of great importance to offer the world -
without it his head and mind can explode with ideas.
Kamuyu is a member of Banana Hill Art Studio,
a group he has worked for as its secretary since its formation. He is termed
as a visionary of the group for his commitment and dedication to the group. He
says a lot will be achieved by his group through him if his live is long in
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An Interview with
Martin Kamuyu on the Painting 'Fantasy'
|When asked how much
of himself is found in the stories of his paintings, Kamuyu readily admits
that his canvases are 90 - 100% biographical. For Kamuyu feelings are
everything. “When you express your feelings your work becomes truthful.
Feelings are everything. That is why most of the time I like talking about
love, and if not love, I am mixing whatever I am doing with animals. Apart
from art, I feel like I have that feeling of animal husbandry… I like being
a farmer; keeping animals like cows, sheep and chicken but not breaking my
back digging the land.”
Fantasy is the story of what Kamuyu says is his most tremendous love affair.
The piece took two months to complete, on account of the heavily applied oil
colours, and the fact that he applies a thick paste of colour and
meticulously proceeds to etch into the wet area with a palette knife, and
then he has to wait for an area to dry off, before he can scratch in the
lighter colours. It is on this account that he works on up to three pieces
at a time.
Originally, the piece was titled Sorry Am Late, but was taken through a
Banana Hill Art Studio naming ritual in which the piece was baptised
Fantasy, on account of the bottle of Fanta soda and the dreamy lady of the
piece. But the real story has little to do with the soft drink borne by the
waiter. Rather he stands in between the real actors in the piece. He is
indeed the unknowing arbiter between Ruth and Kamuyu, complete with his
gourd of modern libations.
The red that pervades the canvas is the classical western colour of love and
the green is the colour of life. Kamuyu picked this from a workshop
conducted by artist Mary Collis. “That is what happens when you go to
school; you … and then you add your own culture.”
“Ruth would suggest we meet in a bar or restaurant. She is a keeper of time
and I am always late. You had to say sorry or face the music. I hate to say
the word sorry so we always had these scenes… But you learn ways of saying
sorry; give her flowers or something…”
Kamuyu’s women (and he would like to live alone like the lion, away from the
pride and only returning when he needs to) exert a lot of influence not only
on the subject matter of his pieces but also on his productivity and style.
At the height of his love affair with Ruth in early 2000, Kamuyu says he
sold like hot cakes and ideas invaded his whole being so that he worked
continuously. “If you are happy in your life even the pieces will be happy
and appreciated by the viewers.”
The division of peoples’ faces into two, the ‘figure 8, fish figure’ of
Kamuyu’s women and the round baby faces of his women, also date from Ruth’s
entry into Kamuyu’s life.
“Ruth is like a painting to me. When we were together I could see the light
and the dark side of her. If you love somebody and she does not know it that
is true love. I love her, she does not love me anymore and when we meet I no
longer tell her I still love her. If I tell her she will want me to love her
the way she wants and it will be messy all over again. She wants me to be
there on time, take her out when I’d rather be with the guys drinking? She
wanted to select who I associated with - some smartly dressed chaps. Me I
don’t want to be a husband, just a partner. I want to be free to go, stay
out for two weeks without being bothered… That’s freedom for me”. And can
his partner do the same, go out for two, three weeks? “Hell, no! I am a
1993-eching workshop at Gallery Watatu.
1994-solor printing at Dagoret Conner
1994-painting workshop with Banana hill art studio
1997-Street workshop at the Banana hill Nairobi road
1998-inter cultural exchange at the French cultural center Nairobi.
1999-Bomb Blast workshop at the Banana hill art studio.
1999-colour mixing workshop at the One Off Gallery.
2001-painting workshop at the Ramoma.
2001-street workshop at the Runda junction.
2002-Inter-cultural exchange at the St. Julian's.
2002-Landscape workshop at the St. Julian's
2002-pottery workshop at Kibichiku potters.
1992-young talents exhibition at Gallery Watatu Nairobi.
1993-young talents at Gallery Watatu Nairobi.
1994-New art from Nairobi in Philadephia USA.
1994-exhibition in Waltrop in Germany.
1995-East Africa for East African industries at Gallery watatu Nairobi.
1996-Heart Expressions at the Goethe institute Nairobi.
1996-Exhibition in Paraguay South America.
1996-Banana hill art in Koln Germany.
1996-East Africa for East Africa indiustries at theNational museum Gallery
1997-Art Affair at the village Market Nairobi.
1997-Exhibition at the Unep for small town calleder in Nairobi.
1997-Art Affair at the Village Market Nairobi.
1998-Heart Expression at the french cultural center Nairobi.
1999-Bomb Blast exhibition at the Goethe institute Nairobi.
1999-Art from Nairobi at the Kubatana Gallery in Atlanta GA USA.
1999-Art Affair at the Village Market Nairobi.
2000-Painterthon at the Yaya center Nairobi.
2000-Art Afffair at Ramoma Nairobi.
2001-street exhibition at Ramoma Nairobi.
2001-Strokes On the Hills at the Village Market Nairobi.
2001-Art Affair at the Village Market Nairobi.
2002-Stroke on the Hills at the National Museum Gallery Nairobi.