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January 21, 2019

How to look at art: Early 21st century young African artists: The symbol of what is possible

Muchira Muraguri, 23, No Complaints, Digital drawings
Muchira Muraguri, 23, No Complaints, Digital drawings

This week, MASK Prize has opened an exhibition titled ‘Early 21 Century Young African Artists’ at the Saatchi Gallery in London. This is a group exhibition of 19 artists aged 18-25 from Kenya, who have emerged through the MASK Prize. The artworks — animations and prints of digital art, photographs, drawings and paintings — will be on display until 12 January 2019. The show is curated by the founder of MASK Prize, artist Alla Tkachuk. 

Twenty vibrant and sophisticated artworks were selected for the breadth of artistic approaches, styles and medium. Skilful storytellers and observers, the artists captured the energy of youth, mirrored the life and commented on the human condition in modern Africa. They make their art because ‘Art is where we express our creativity’, they say. ‘Art teaches us freedom and beauty. It helps us to look and understand what we see and to act on what we have learned. Art is a physical expression of our imagination, emotions and ideas. Art is the symbol of what is possible. We imagine things and make them a reality’.

In Africa, art has been limited or absent in schools. Art galleries and museums are scarce. This creates an unacceptable inequality in art participation and art production for the majority of young Africans. Most of them will never visit an art gallery, study at an art school, or have a career in the arts or creative industries. Moreover, the curtailed access to the arts threatens their creativity skill, which is key to successful employability and leadership in the 21st century.

However, with the help of MASK Prize, a unique creativity competition that provides participation opportunities for all young Africans regardless of ability and income, the creativity of young people stands to flourish and amaze.  Showing some of the MASK Prize talents, the ‘Early 21 Century Young African Artists’ hopes to inform, educate and engage the audiences both in Africa and in the West.

Pioneered in Kenya in 2013 by a UK creativity education charity MASK (Mobile Art School in Kenya,, and partnered by leading media houses such as the Kenyan leading national newspaper The Star and number one Kenyan TV channel Citizen TV, MASK Prize reaches thousands of youths in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Mauritius, Nigeria, Cameroon and South Africa. Participants enter their innovative and inventive artworks and ideas in several categories free online. Winners selected by the international panel of judges are awarded prizes in several categories and age groups at the Award Ceremony in Nairobi. Selected works are exhibited at leading cultural institutions in Kenya, UK and USA.

The MASK Prize promotes art as a positive force that develops creativity, brings change and builds a better future. Art has unlimited powers to change minds and behaviour of those who experience it and, therefore, art makes a significant difference to the lives of individuals and society. MASK Prize is an important Social Art project, which empowers and enables young Africans through art. In the words of participant John Mutahi, 20, from Kenya, “MASK Prize makes us more innovative and leads us to inventions that make the world a better place.”


For more information about the exhibition, please visit If you believe in MASK Prize cause, in growing creativity amongst Kenyan younger generation, which will encourage innovation and the creation of a better future for them, contact Alla Tkachuk to be among the MASK Prize sponsors from January 2019 on [email protected]


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