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February 26, 2018

Art: Abstract expressionism at Alliance Française

Art enthusiasts studying Leevans Linyerera abstract paintings
Art enthusiasts studying Leevans Linyerera abstract paintings

Nothing is as interesting as artists breaking from realistic conventions to set free a new realm of painting. Usually colossal in idea, their crafts tend to be quite intense, detailed, expressive and deep. 

That is the case at the Alliance Française, Nairobi, which is playing host to an abstract art exhibition featuring works from artists Leevans Linyerera and Stanley Cheche called "Not a Big Spoon".

The exhibition, a showcase of comprehensive paintings, cuts across issues affecting the Kenyan society, with the artists giving separate perspectives through careful and informed choice of colour and patterns.

The artists, who have been under the mentorship and guidance of critically acclaimed artist Patrick Mukabi, have delivered an exhibit not simply meant to be admired, but to provoke thought. Inspired by the phrase "Call a spade a spade, not a big spoon," the exhibition is meant to bluntly attack the wrongs that mar our society.  

Leevans Linyerera exhibits acrylic on canvas paintings, directing great criticism towards the current political system, media bias, mediocrity and ethnic division. From his advanced works, free of constraints on canvas, he tells his experiences through colour. It is only when you keenly look into his pieces that you notice the level of intricacy involved.

Stanley Cheche's pieces are based on extensive research and are a depiction of the political, social and economic misdeeds facing the society. He integrates acrylic paint and objects such as syringes and shoes to give the necessary emphasis on his works. He addresses injustices such as drug abuse, political oppression, poaching, environmental degradation and war.

What is obvious and common about both artists, despite using different techniques, is the fact that they are assertively addressing the unfavourable state of the nation and acting as activists championing for change and justice.

The exhibit showcases over 15 pieces, with artwork prices ranging from Sh85,000 to Sh120,000, depending on the complexity and conceptualisation that went into creating each piece.

Also running simultaneously at the venue is a photography exhibition christened "Raising Voices", done by Mathare youth being trained in photography by the Mathare Foundation.

The exhibition was opened by British High Commissioner Nic Hailey and French Embassy SFFD programme officer Claire Baudoux.

It displays photos that capture children indulging in various sports activities.

In support of the young budding photographers, the Alliance Française has provided space where the young, up-and-coming photographers can showcase their talent and skills to a major audience.

The two exhibitions, which opened to the public on August 24, are expected to run for the next couple of weeks. Admission is free. 

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