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Banana Hill
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Banana Hill Artists and More

I spent a lot of time at the Banana Hill art studio before I recently left Kenya. The studio and gallery are primarily run by Shine Tani, a well-respected and internationally acclaimed Kenyan artist. In the compound of the studio is a residential area behind the gallery where many of the resident artists live and raise their families. This make for a very lively atmosphere where kids are scampering around and everything is very casual.

The guy at left, Kibunja (standing in front of the painting that is for sale, below), is very proud of his paintings and expressed his delight at our visiting, and was especially happy to sell to us one of his paintings then, and another just the other day. Kibunja struck me to be both a talented and humorous character - reeking of beer and bangi on alternative visits. He always wore a smile and I know why!

Shade Kamau (at right) was more stolid and serious about his art, though I had a hard time appreciating most of it. He has a wonderful way with colors, but his topics I thought to be strange. Where Kibunja stuck to what he liked - simple round-faced characters - Shade wandered through subjects, never quite settling on something that struck him to be explored further. The painting below I thought to be the best of the lot. See what you think!

The aloof Simon Kariuki (left) had a great many paintings on display. I compare his style to Andrew Kamondia. Both are experimental in subject but much more refined as far as talent goes. I tend to think of Kamondia as a 'surreal realist', and I think that Simon falls into this category; subject-wise wandering, but very skilled in painting and reproduction.

There are example of each of their artwork below. If you are interested in any of these paintings, please fill out the Purchasing Form - or you can always Make an Offer!

For more paintings by the Banana Hill artists, please see the following Inside African Art web pages:
Shine Tani
Martin Kamuyu
Simon Muriithi

Artist: David Kimani
Title: Pouring in Millet
Dimensions:
13" x 10" (33 x 25cm)
Medium: Acrylic on paper
Price: $100 New Price
Artist: David Kimani
Title: Brewing
Dimensions:
13" x 10" (33 x 25cm)
Medium: Acrylic on paper
Price: $100 New Price
Artist: Shade Kamau
Title: Meditation
Dimensions: 8.5" x 12" (22 x 30cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Price: $80 New Price
Artist: Simon Kariuki
Title: Don't Cry Wonderful Bird II
Dimensions: 10.5" x 17" (27 x 43cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Price: $200
   
Artist: Shade Kamau
Title: Meditation
Dimensions: 19" x 14" (48 x 36cm)
Medium: Acrylic on paper
Price: $60
Artist: Peter Kabunja
Title: Portrait
Dimensions: 9" x 5" (22 x 13cm)
Medium: Acrylic on paper
Price: $30
   
New!
Artist: Peter Kibunja
Title: Women Are Green
Dimensions:41" x 40" (106 x 103cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Price: $800 Sold! 31 May '10 -
To an African far from home!
Artist: Simon Kariuki
Title: Love on the Rock
Dimensions: 9" x 10" (23 x 25cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Price: $120 SOLD! 20th April 2008-Thanks
Artist: Julius Kimemia
Title: Maasai Women
Dimensions:
5.5" x 10" (12 x 16cm)
Medium: Oil on paper
Price: $100
Sold! 14 Feb '11 - Thanks Malcom!
Artist: Simon Kariuki
Title: Strings attached
Dimensions:
12.5" x 17" (32 x 43cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas
SOLD! 8 October 2006-Thanks!
Artist: David Kimani
Title: Traditional Kitchen
Dimensions:
11" x 10" (28 x 25cm)
Medium: Acrylic on paper
SOLD!  10 October 2006-To Singapore-Thanks!
Artist: David Kimani
Title: Beasts of Burden
Dimensions:
13" x 9.5" (33 x 24cm)
Medium: Acrylic on paper
SOLD!  10 October 2006-To Singapore-Thanks!
Artist: Kibunja
Title: African Mona Lisa
Dimensions:43" x 34.5" (109 x 87cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas
SOLD!  8 October 2006-To Texas-for a dining room display-Thanks!
Artist: Simon Kariuki
Title: And the Beanstalk
Dimensions:
10.5" x 16" (27 x 41cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas
SOLD! 8 October 2006-Thanks!
   
Artist: Simon Kariuki
Title: Watching Butterfly
Dimensions:
10" x 12.5" (25 x 32cm)
Medium: Oil on canvas
SOLD! 8 October 2006-
Thanks!
Art Exhibition of the works
 of Julius Kimemia at the
Banana Hill Art Studio
   

If you are interested in any of these paintings, please fill out the Purchasing Form - or you can always Make an Offer!

More on the Banana Hill Art Studio from the excellent website www.africancolours.net:

A visit to Banana Hill Studio

By Duncan Miriri

Kenyan artists discouraged by the sheer challenge of setting up meaningful groups for productive work take heart; there is a tried and tested, working model.

Out in the laid back, greenery enchanted Banana Hill village in Kiambu district, just a few kilometers outside of Nairobi, a group of forty-five artists are busy churning out oil and acrylics paintings 'due to a desire for paintings that last'.

'We do not use water based paints, as they do not last long like oil and acrylics,"  explains secretary of the group, Martin Kamuyu as he applies paint on a work titled Saviour that depicts a typical Kenyan village and a cart pusher who supplies water to the households.

"Some of us also do sculpturing but space limitations means few sculptures have been made by the group',
adds Kamuyu.

The hundreds of paintings that I found at the Banana Hill Art Studio of contemporary African art on a recent visit are a testimony to the fact that artists can harness their resources together, and through a common purpose, are able to create art.

The main challenge to artists in this country is lack of space to do their work and the necessary materials such as paints.

The group started in 1992, when twelve artists started out to create art as a group with shared resources in materials and living costs through the help of 37-year-old artist, Shine Tani who had already cut a niche for himself as an artist with a media profile.

Shine Tani who had constantly appeared on TV programs shared his materials, food and accommodation with the rest for the first few years. In 1996, the Ministry of Culture registered the artists' association as a self-help group.

Banana Hill Art Studio has since endured tough times. "SInce Kenya has no manufacturer of arts materials, artists obtain imported materials at a very high price", says Tani.

He adds that there is an apparent lack of interest in art in the Kenyan society 'which leads to lack of exposure even in the media'.

The artists have however hang in there through the years and have held exhibitions both locally and abroad. They have received support from organizations and individuals. "We are currently getting support from the Ford Foundation through Ramoma gallery. We paint because we want to express ourselves and to cure the urge inside of us to give life to our artistic expressions", says Kamuyu.

Banana Hill Art Studio has artists like Willy Wamuti, Sebastian Kiarie, Joe Friday, Rose Kanini and Rachael Wangari among others.

The themes that they tackle range from social messages like Kamuyu's Asset on cost sharing in public life to dreamy paintings that evoke feelings such as one untitled painting by Jeff Wambugu that hangs at the back of the studio.

Duncan Miriri is a freelance journalist in Nairobi who writes regularly for local and international media.