Hugging the hill that opens into Limuru is the Banana Hill Art Gallery, a gallery that would easily be mistaken for a museum, but let that not distract your view of the gallery and for that matter the tone of this article.
In February, the gallery hosted renowned Congolese fine artist Bezalel Ngabo who showcased some of his creative works. Ngabo showcased his mastery on canvas, with oil paintings that are a product of his ability to listen while allowing his imagination to recreate history.
His pieces are a reminder of the incidents happening in the world, the artist draws inspiration from current to historic incidents, his works do not scream desperation but his skills will effortlessly bring out the deeply hidden emotions in the audience.
Some of Ngabo’s work which struck a chord with me were; a depiction of the Chibok girls’ plight and emotions brought to life by different shades of color. Ngabo uses his skilled hands on his beloved canvas to ensure that the memory of the girls lingers in every one of us. The Chibok girls were kidnapped by the Nigerian militant group Boko Haram in 2014 but have not been rescued as of yet.
Some of his message oriented art also speak to Kenya’s moral state, evoking memories of protests dubbed “My Dress My Choice”, after many took to the streets to protest incidents where women were targeted based on the manner they dressed, the paintings were a picture of the choice of freedom, the woman’s voice but at the same time reminded us that the issue is not fully resolved.
Despite having previously exhibited at Banana Hill Art Gallery, Ngabo-who is now a household name in Kenya- has also had his paintings exhibited at National Museum’s of Kenya, Braeburn School and at the Alliance Francaise.
The prolific Kinshasa born artist has lived in Kenya since 2002. Banana Hill Art Gallery was founded by Shine Tani in 1992. The gallery has hosted many artists from Kenya and beyond.
According to Tani, the past few years have seen Kenyans fall in love with art. “The number has grown and more people are buying art pieces especially Kenyans,” he said. “Some even offer to pay in installments,”
Bezalel Ngabo’s exhibition, ‘The Art Savor’ ran up to February 26.
You can visit the artist’s website: bezalelngabo.com for more of his works.
Here is a picture of one of his painting My Dress My Voice