Interview with Rose Ahono, Artist at Kuona Trust Art Centre.
Interviewers: Stefanie Habben and Isabella Schulz
Could you please introduce yourself.
My name is Rosemarie Ahono, and I am a painter, printer, and maker. I mostly paint figures or portraits, but I do my portraits in pressures of people. I guess that is what I do most of the time.
Could you describe the technique of your painting?
My technique is oil. I use the polish knife, and the technique probably is impressions
Why did you choose this kind of technique?
I like the texture. I got not enough texture from the brush, so I switched to the knife just to experiment and I liked it. So I mixed two techniques.
There are just a few women here in Kuona Trust. Is it hard for women to work here as an artist?
Women get caught up in social issues of life, like getting married and having kids, maybe your husband doesn’t want you to work. It is hard to juggle and to balance the truth, and if you are single, it is even harder, because you have to support your family or your children.
How can you manage your life as a female artist?
Because I am awesome. Seriously, the most important thing is harmony at home. So my husband and me, we are best friends. He understands me, I understand him and he understands that art is important for me. When I started painting, I was happy.
How is it like to work with so many men in the art centre?
I am very strong, wild, and I don’t really care.
How does your gender influence your work?
I paint a lot of kids and women. I think women do a lot of work. Even when they go home, I see women going to the fields for work. So I think women are very strong, wild, and they do lots of hard work and even controlling money and finances.
What is the most special thing about your work?
The kids are close to being the most special thing. They are directional, especially the kids that I see around the slums, where I sometimes go. I like to walk around there, because I have friends there. Kids are very special to me.
Does Nairobi inspire your work as an artist?
Yes and no. Yes, in terms of the people I mess up in my work. So I get different faces to paint. And no, I don’t really concentrate on the social commentary of the life here. What I see and what affects me in my work is what I paint.
Is Nairobi a special place for artists or do you think you could be an artist anywhere else?
Africa is good for what I do here. About Europe, I don’t know. The Europeans who come here, they always say that it is a bit harder to be an artist there. I think it is better here.
How do the Kenyan people mind or recommend your art? What do Kenyans think about your art?
The Kenyans notice my work, mostly because I paint cultural scenes. They recognize their tribes and the fight of cultures. Other Kenyans like my art just because of the colours.
Can you live as a professional artist?
Right now, I can survive with my art, so only by my art.
What does Kuona Trust mean to you?
Marketing and branding, or expressing myself. Kuona Trust makes me ask myself questions about which part of me is an artist, how my art is, where it comes from. Kuona Trust helps me to answer those questions, which I need to answer for myself as an artist.
Is there something you want to add about your work here in Kuona Trust or your private life? Is there something the readers should know about you as an artist?
I am very energetic - I like the colour red. Anybody who knows my work and knows me, knows that I have to sneak some red into my paintings. About Kuona: If you are in Nairobi and you are looking for an art centre, you should come to Kuona; it is the place, where all the amazing artists are.
And you are part of them?