Culture of today, more than in physical setting, is transmitted by behaviors and activities. Rwandan crafts, the pottery and jewelry tradition, all stating the Rwandan’s passion for decorations with a specific style of handling and giving the final touch to art objects. Although not quite regarded as art, there is much to read in the way of dressing, in the way of walking on the street, as well as in the movements of the hops and hands`double clap on a beat. From all arts of Kigali`s cultural life, I was more attracted to the cultural glimpses framed in visual art, as currently developed in the works I got to discover.
I have recently stepped in a small shop in the centre of the city, where, although the space is overcrowded with paintings, there is warmth and vibe of good energy from some amazing paintings. I asked the supervisor who`s the artist of them. He said: “Jilos. I am the artist”. I was so much attracted by the colors, by the gradients used, and by the textures of the paintings. I visited his small studio in the attic of the shop. It was so narrow and so full of color. I couldn`t keep by noticing the gamma he was mostly using: brown, yellow, pale blue – all I consider to be romantic, burning passion, and revealing a dreamy soul. Thus, getting curious about his art, I asked for a further visit.
Coming back in the petit attic of the shop, I took some time talking with the artist. By his name, Rutarngwa Thiery, he is now making a living from visual art, in Jilos, his small studio in the centre of Kigali. Jilos has learned the skill of painting in Gisenyi, but his art comes from within. Asked about the core of his art, he said that is the cultural aspect, the tradition, the meanings that get lost in today`s development. Those he want to save on the canvas and leave it as a legacy. He lives from painting and with painting. In his spare time he gives private lessons to students that want to cultivate their talent. Jilos is not online. Somehow, I do appreciate the call for seeing a painting with your own eyes, touch its texture and get yourself in the radius of the color it express. Somehow, I wish to send worldwide the aura of (cultural) shine that I felt coming from his art, from Kigali, overseas. This, not to spread a culture and technique, but to spread a universe created by the artist, a universe of care, hope and accuracy of tradition and color. What is very attractive at his work, apart from his beautiful creations, is his long lasting courage to building up a career by his own. I have still in mind the words spoken by the artist Clara Lieu when presenting “Have no fear” as one of the keys of success in visual art. Yes, have no fear: to try, to test, to fail, to start again, to become better.
Leaving the studio, I was stricken by the chromatic chaos from the streets. How can such difference occur and how can a chromatic education be made if not in promoting the value of visual art? Decorations, fabrics, adverts, walls, labels, screens, everything is color, all in addition of a lack of (public accessible) green areas, making the predominance of public-seen space a colorful street. The experiential and aesthetic appearance of the city reflects the culture of the place, by activities, by people`s attitudes, by the colors and atmosphere created on this limited public space. All aspects of today`s everyday life are reasoning the need to embody the culture in art.
Is good to see that visual art is moving in Kigali, is nice to find art centers, cultural events and people interested in promoting such. A developing city, as Kigali`s 1+1=3 concept states, has to consider all physical, social, cultural and economical aspect in its course. More than before, in those 2013 counted years, visual art is an important witness of today.
If you are curios to know more about Jilos and his art, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org