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Inside the minds of artists

Inside the minds of artists

Rwanda Art Museum

I fell in love with art while visiting Kayonza a couple of years ago. I was having coffee at imigongo Art Center when I started paying attention to artworks displayed in the building.

After a rejuvenating coffee break, I took a walk around the gallery and studied a collection of artists’ impressions. Paintings of vendors selling commodities in the market, children running to school with backpacks strapped around their shoulders, birds spreading their wings and flying over breathtaking landscapes, elephants wandering in the jungle and so much more.

When we see a new billboard on our way to work, our brains perform a split-second process of absorbing a cluster of components and filtering the message it’s meant to convey. To figure out what a painting communicates, we need to slow down that process and avoid jumping to snap conclusions.

I struggled to decode meanings of complex artworks. Even simple illustrations raised more questions than answers. I remember looking at women carrying jerry cans and wondered: "Is the painter addressing lack of running water in their households? Is he showcasing the spirit of working together? Could it be both? Am I missing a broader context here?"

I looked at the combination of color and texture. I observed the juxtaposition of objects. I mused over shadows, shapes and dimensions. Gradually, I started getting into the minds of artists.

That experience turned me into an art enthusiast. During one of my subsequent trips to Kayonza, I rolled up my sleeves and tried my hand at painting. At the end of the day, I learned that it’s just another form of communication.

My newfound affinity to art and thirst for knowledge influenced my decision to visit the Rwanda Art Museum. Although I still have a long way to go, this tour happened when my ability to interpret artworks had improved significantly.

Inside the museum, I observed one artwork after another. For about an hour, I was lost in a collection of contemporary artworks produced by both Rwandan and international artists. It was easier to paraphrase their message because the exhibition includes intended messages, with a handful of artworks being the only exception.

The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Kicukiro is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, Elimo Real Estate Ltd and Exposure. Follow him on Twitter @GeoExposure

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