|Sculpture, paintings, engravings, furniture, antique, decoration, decorative, gallery, art, antiquity, antiquities, collectibles, auctions house, collector
Shine Tani himself welcomed us at the Banana Hill Art Studio, not far from Banana Hill Village on the route to Limuru, few miles from downtown Nairobi. A small panel indicated the entrance of the gallery. We parked our car inside the modest building and introduced ourselves. On that day, Shine was free, working at the gallery, usually he gives for free art classes to pupils based in the slums to give the young generation a minimum exposure to artistic expression.
Shine Tani was born in 1967 in Ngecha in Kenya. Early influenced by his brother who loved to draw, as a young boy, Shine took interest in art with the hope to become a real artist. But lack of money did not allow him to plan such a career. Shine had then to shape his fate, he integrated first an acrobatic group, then lived in the streets for many years without doubting of his destiny as an artist. In 1988, He started to produce some paintings and gained the support of Ruth Schaffner from the reknowned Watatu Art Gallery in Nairobi, as well as the attention of art collectors. This is how the fame of the self-taught artist grew to become one of the most famous signature in Kenya.
Birth of the Banana Hill Group
Shine's celebrity quickly spread around the country, and soon, many young artists came to his door in the hope of support and advice. Carrying with him these artists on the wave of his success, Shine shared his money and offered shelter in the name of the artistic creation... The Banana Hill Group was born, we were in 1992.
In 1996, the group had already 38 artists, painters and sculptors. For many years, these artists from Kenya worked and lived all together in the Banana Hill building with their family (in little barracks in the rear of the studio), each one bustling about developping its own art. Ten years later, the place was not big enough, the artists had to split up while some careers developped more boldly than others. On common agreement, Shine became the only owner of the building. He is now the Director of the Banana Hill Art Studio where he proposes the artworks of the Banana Hill Group but also many new talents from Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa. Nowadays, Shine counts more than 50 artists, he hopes to attract artists from all over Africa and spread the gallery outside african boundaries.
Art in Kenya
Like in many countries, to assert oneself as an artist is not always easy, that was the case for many artists when they told the family, but it was even more difficult for Shine. The art in Kenya is not very well considered and not very well represented inside the government which invests little for it. As a result, the local population is little familiarized and collectors are rare, which slow down the exposure in the media.
Shine has to fight to keep the Studio running. The post-electoral violences and the ones perpetrated by the Mungiki organization do not make it easier, people venture less and less outside the city.
But Shine continues to support, teach and develop art with enthousiasm and often as a volunteer even if the basic art material is expensive and sometimes inaccessible when it has to be imported.
If you do not know them, you are going to discover their skills. Some artists such as Shine Tani, Martin Muhoro (co-founder of the Banana Hill group) or Lucki Mutebi are already known by people to a larger audience, others are part of the family, for example, Martin Kamuyu is Shine's cousin, or others arrive from different horizons: Peter Kibunja, Kivuthu Mbuno, Giko, G.K Kahihu ...
We can notice it through the various paintings I selected, each artist has his own style and vision of the world. Humour is often present and brings a lot of freshness. The colors are numerous, warm or bright, a real pleasure for the eye. These few paintings and sculptures invite us to discover all the things these incredible artists from this little spot of earth have to tell...to be followed with attention.
Article from Cendrine Galipot