Contemporary African Art Gallery in Nairobi, Kenya

Kivuthi Mbuno – Biography

Kivuthi Mbuno was born in Kenya in the year 1947. He is an recognized master of the international art scene. His works were exhibited in very important museums and private galleries in Europe (Saatchi Collection, London, Germany) and in the United States (Center for African Art, New York).

In his early days, Kivuthi Mbuno worked as a chief on Safaris, which led him to travel, primarly into the interior of Kenya and Tanzania. This is how he came to know nature and its wild fauna and to mantain a close relationship with them that was to mark him deeply. In 1976, his ties with the family of baroness Karen Blixen (better known under her nome de plume, Isaac Dinesen) led him to settle in Langata, where, from then on, he devoted himself exclusively to drawing. These lenghty treks inland as well as the traditional life of the Wakamba tribe, from which he comes, have inspired him. Mbuno gives himself to nature and shows us the extraordinary in what is common place. In a precise drawing style – using ink, color pencils, and pastels – he combines animals, humas, objects of traditional life and huge spaces. This is his vocabulary, and it has not changed in almost 20 years.

Here the vast territories of Africa have none of that hostile aspects usually ascribed to them. Kivuthi Mbuno transports us into a peaceable and luminous world that yields itself up to any activity. For Kivuthi Mbuno the sparkle of his world is percetible in places where we do not ordinary notice it. Animals (gazelles, giraffes, hyienas, elephants, snakes, birds) ceaselessly play with their morphological characteristics ( the giraffes long neck, the powerful elephants trunk, and so far) in this nature in which they apropriate their respective territory in perfect harmony with the other animals. Only mankind might appear as the disturbing element. But there, too, Mbuno decks them out with characteristics that are at one and the same time grotesque and elegant: they move about with the same ease as the animals they are hunting. Shining through their very singular faces are the spiritual characteristics of shrewd, pleasure-seeking, enjoyful people.

Kivuthi Mbuno The model in the artist’s mind comes closer to the supernatural than to the natural. We would be wrong to believe in one ancestral vision or to see in this work the mark of primitive naivete. The artist himself explains that what he wants to paint is less the reality than the idea he has of nature in a sort of eden-like era. For Kivuthi Mbuno, beauty merges with the lovely harmony of people with their natural environment, and he feels that this way of being in the world might be called “being inside beauty”.

source: “Contemporary Art of Africa”, A. Magnin; “Contemporary African Art from the Jean Pigozzi collection”, Sotheby’s

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Biographical Information

Kivuthi Mbuno; Banana Hill Art Gallery, NairobiName: Kivuthi Mbuno
Place of Birth: Kampala, Uganda
Date of Birth: 1947
Resides: Kampala
Graduated from: Self-taught
Graduated in:
Style: Painter
Marital Status:

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