Old, as they say, is gold. And Epa Binamungu is the quintessential image of this age-old adage, writes Joseph Ondiek.
For four days, from 28 October to 31 October, 2016, Binamungu showcased his latest collection of artwork in an exhibition dubbed `Paying Tribute to Small Forms’ and held at the high-end Umubano Hotel in Kacyiru, Kigali.
The 62-year old artist exhibited his latest repertoire of magnificent artworks; a number of which carried succinct social messages while others were just aesthetically dazzling to the eye.
Paying tribute to short forms was Binamungu’s way of showing there are hidden messages one can glean from the short forms of artwork, just like short pages of a running novel can offer a bounty of crucial information.
Majority of the artwork on display was abstract acrylic on canvas pieces, painted and meticulously framed canvases. Most of them were arranged in six pieces each, which Binamungu explained was to “ showcase more of their shared themes and less of as a stylistic arrangement.”
“When I start thinking about an exhibition, I also think how I’m going to arrange it. This matters a lot to an artist who wants to capture the attention of viewers through careful choice of arrangement,” he says.
Well, the arrangement of Binamungu’s 110 artworks, covering the entire walls the exhibition was held added glamour to the exhibition. Looking at each piece, as one walked along, one could see that each subsequent piece had some solid or loose relationship with the previous one, mostly in terms of shared themes.
Binamungu’s rich use of colors and his deftness with brushstrokes conspicuously made their mark in such semi-realism pieces as the 50x80cm mix media `The Day of Silence’. Here he paints a portrait of a woman in deep- contemplative silence.
“Through silence, we talk loudly. You can find a person is deeply silent but when you dig deeper, you find that the person has bottled-up emotions that only keeping silent suppresses. Silence can also be cathartic, just like screaming out loudly, “ Binamungu says.
Another painting with similar dimension that stood next to this piece was `La Source’, that depicted two men addressing a group of people, with the bigger man holding on tether the traditional cows that has become Rwanda’s rich source of cultural heritage.
Then, of course, there were also some art pieces that clearly depicted the traditional way of life in Rwanda, like the evergreen Intore dancers. In one piece, an exquisitely beautiful woman is painted dancing to the rich rhythm of the African drum, with her flailing her arms wide open, as if to embrace the message of the rich songs and the drumbeats.
This was Binamungu’s third exhibition at the same venue this year. The veteran visual artist, who says he has been in the trade for now over 40 years, is a reminder to youthful and upcoming artists that talent and skills do not wane with age. His attractive paintings can grace the walls of any museum in the world.
His Inganzo Art Center in Masaka, in the outskirts of the City of Kigali, is an expression of sublime art. Binamungu transformed a dry patch of land into a lush artistic paradise where he not only has a workshop but also recently constructed an art gallery where his veritable paintings of art are displayed.