Artist profile: Brian Omolo


Brian Omolo

Brian Omolo

Name:        Brian Omolo

City/Country:   Nairobi, Kenya


Website :


Brian Omolo lives and works in Nairobi, working as an illustrator and graphic designer.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

Well Viongozi is a series of portraits that I wanted to work on mostly because it’s a relevant topic, everyones mind is on elections, everyone is thinking about these faces. I think s an artist I was attracted to that.. the fact thats its so relevant and also project prodived me the freedom to push my boundaries and go as far as I wanted to go. Hopefully it’ll get people to appreciate a different style of design. This project was very different from my past work because it’s the first one I’ve done that’s based politics. Its also the first time gone into this much detail, with the hand drawn graphics into the faces so I’m very happy with how it came out.

How did you decide to become an artist?

I think I’ve always been an artist its always been something that I’ve enjoyed doing even from high school times. But I its my time in University that realy opened my eyes to it and inspired me to make it a career. I always wanted to do something that I was passionate about, I didn’t ever want to be bored. I didn’t ever want to feel like I was in a chemistry class again heheheJ

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?

Be yourself, do you, do the kind of work that only you can do. People want to see your vision, you don’t have to be too smart, you don’t have to try to be too funny. Stay true to yourself be passionate about your craft and it’ll always show in your work. Your personality is yours alone no one else can do you or see things the way you see things, so if find a way to sort of bring your vision into what you do I think that’s what people are facinated with the most and that’s what gets people’s attention in a good way.

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sellyour work?  How do you market yourself?

To be honest I never sold my art, I think this will be the 1st time I’ve sold my artwork but I do have an online portfolio. I do have a profile on behance which has really helped get the word out there. I’ve had a lot of freelance jobs, my 1st job, projects and collaborations which have come because of I put myself out there behance. The internet is definetly you biggest friend and you have to take advantage of it to the fullest. There are sites like, & which are soooo awesome for selling digital artwork online, so Im also planning to set up an online shop where people can buy my stuff. Also just good old fashioned networking, meet people have a friendly chat let them see what you do and if you smell an opportunity coming up pounce on itJ Most people appreciate that kind of eagerness and passion.

Who are some of the Nairobi/ Kenyan artists you enjoy?

Actually im quite bad at following the local art scene I’m more into digital art, if I was to name a few who I like defintely guys like Jim Chuchu, Chilli Mango,, Mutua Matheka photography, also other friends like Kevin Karanja.. young guy but extremely talented in what he does. Lukas Makau very good at graphic design.

If I were to follow you around to see art in Nairobi, which placeswould we go? What would we see?

I think if I’m feeling dry or lacking inspiration I defintely like to checkout places like the Goethe institute in town.. they always have something cool happening there, cool places like West gate, Village market, Java house, Art caffe(their branding is awesssomme!), Tazama galleries, Nakumatt the cd section. These are the places that drain my pocket and feed my imagination hehe. Most times its conversations with people, life experiences or even random movie scenes that bring the most inspiration.

In addition to, where do you go onlinefor good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see whatis going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

Wow there are sooo many sites there so many hehe the list is endless but to begin with… I always checkout which is awesome because they big up local talent,, behance is fantastic! They have a section for everything whether your into Illustration, Branding, Interior design you name it, Its like a one stop shop. And when Im looking for creative tips and advice I go to, and so yeah to round them up hehe those are the ones I go to.

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?

Hopefully, I have afew ideas on what I want to do I just need to bounce them off peoples and just see how they react, still want to play around with first before I settle into what I want to do next.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

At the moment I just want to see if I can work on a few projects in advertising hopefully, maybe some interesting collaborations. I would love to do some artworks for a clothing company like Mr Price, maybe Converse, Nike! That would be a dream come true.

Phillips Nzekwe; master sculptor by right

Phillips Nzekwe

Phillips Nzekwe

Phillips Nzekwe is both an excentric and inspiring personality.From the way he works, one can quickly gather that he is  hard working and passionate about his work. While most sculptors have chosen to work in the primary sculpting media of wood, stone and metal, Phillips has come up with an extraordinary way of developing these life size sculptures form metal, fibre mat,saw dust and gravel among other materials.

Sculpture by Phillips Nzwekwe

Sculpture by Phillips Nzwekwe

Phillips holds a degree in Fine & Applied Arts and a masters in Sculpture from Delta State University.He  has been on a two month residency programme at Kuona trust during which he has taught a sculpting workshop and passed on a wealth of skills and knowledge to our artists.

Phillips Nzekwe

We will have a one day open studio on the 1st of February 2013 from 10am to 4pm. Come by and meet the artist, interact , learn more about his process and also about what we do as an arts organization.

VIONGOZI-a refreshing outlook on our presidential hopefuls



With the election fever building up, most of us are keen on following opinion polls and joining in on discussions on the streets or at work concerning politics and more so who to elect. The  clock is  ticking and with just under 45 days to the big day, most people are still watching,waiting with bated breath to see the outcome of the general election.

On a rather light note, one artist Brian Omolo , takes us through a  journey where we look at these personalities that continually influence our  lives in a new and contemporary way. He alters the portraits of the presidential candidates with a touch of African graphics (in his own words) to bring humor and a light hearted touch to the frequently criticized personalities.

Brian hopes that people will be amused and leave with a sense of unity and pride in our diversity as Kenyans.

Join us this Thursday 31st January for a one of a kind exhibition ‘ VIONGOZI’ by Brian Omolo.

Exhibition dates: 31st January- 14th February from 9am to 6pm

Viongozi Exhibition


Look out for Brian Omolo’s artist profile tomorrow as we learn more about his work, his processes and the inspiration behind his work.

Sculpting galore

Our first workshop this year  was quite brilliant. We had a fantastic 6 day sculpting workshop instructed by our current resident artist Phillips Nzekwe from the 16th to the 21st of January.

The participants had the chance to make all sorts of animal, human and inanimate objects using gravel, sawdust and wire to create sculptures that were as diverse as their personalities.

Here is a sneak peak  for those who missed out.

So, the original idea was to make something like this…well not exactly, but using the same technique.

Phillips nzekwe at kuona trus

Sculpture by Phillips Nzekwe

After a few instructions from the teacher,the class kicked off with the eager participants readt to create something they could proudly show at the end of the workshop.

Phillips Nzekwe at Kuona trust

Phillips Nzekwe instructing his class

Some got the hang of it…

phillips nzekwe at kuona trust

phillips nzekwe at kuona trust

Some almost made it..

kuona trust workshop

And it proved  to be very hard work with others working on a collaborative piece together.

kuona trust workshop

But finally everyone was happy and they all walked away with the sculptures they had made. Congratulations guyz and we hope to see you during the next workshop.

Phillips workshop

A few of the students showing their output from the workshop



Opportunities for artists

1.Independent Corators International(ICI) and the Bag Factory Artists’ Studios announce the Curaorial Intensive in Johannesburg


The Curatorial Intensive is ICI’s short-term, low-cost training program that offers 12-14 curators the chance to develop project ideas and make connections with professionals in the field. It also provides the invaluable opportunity for peer-group education, forging new networks internationally.

Application Guidelines
Dates: 7 to 12 March 2013
Applicants currently working in Africa will be eligible to participate in the Curatorial Intensive. To apply send a single PDF to with JOHANNESBURG as the subject line. All applications must include a 300-worddescription of a program idea that the applicant would like help in developing. This description should outline the proposal concept and any artists that the applicant is considering. Also required is a current 250-word bio, a 500-word letter of intent and a 300-word text that describes a recent curatorial project that has made an impact on the applicant.

Fees and Bursaries
The program fee is R10,000. Additionally participants are responsible for covering travel and accommodation expenses.

Application deadline : January 28,2013

For more information visit:

2. Rijksakademie/ De Ateliers 2012: Call for applications

The programme offers artists access to facilities of both institutions including a private studio, studio visits by renowned artists and theoreticians, technical workshops, libraries, artist talks, seminars, open studio events and administrative services.

Duration: At least one year

Deadline for application: 1st February 2013

To apply  visit or

Kuona Trust 2013 January Newsletter

Happy new year. We thank you for all your help and support during the previous  year and look forward to a fantastic 2013 full of  exciting art activities and events. We start this year’s newsletter with a brief recap of some of the activities that took place during the last quarter of the year 2012.

Kuona Trust open day

The Kuona Trust Open Days have become a key bi- annual event, providing a multi-faceted platform that supports open engagement between Kenyan artists and the public. Over the years, this event has enlisted loyal support from thousands of people from Kenya and around the world and with each year,our challenge is to meet their growing expectations while attracting new audiences. Our last open day achieved just that as all roads led to Kuona trust on the 14th and the 15th of December 2012.

We had an exhilarating two day open day which was much different from the ones we previously had and it proved to be one of the most interesting and well attended yet.  We partnered with several organizations including Kwani Trust, the Kilimani Festival and Absolut Vodka to bring the audience a spectacular 2 day experience.

On Friday 14th, in collaboration with Kwani Trust, we had an exhibition of works by artists from the Horn of Africa region followed by a panel discussion with the artists and writers dabbed ‘Conversations from the Horn’. This evening culminated with an electrifying performance by the Electique Afrique band /DJ’s that managed to turn our garden into a dance floor.

Saturday the 15th was a family fun day with plenty of art activities and workshops for everyone- kids of all ages and adults.  Our annual wall Mural and the ‘Before I die…’  wall were a big hit for the day, and everyone had an opportunity to write at least one thing on their bucket list.

before I die wall

The’ Before I die..’ was a personal favorite to many who got to write on it

The evening saw a great crowd come in to enjoy live music from some homegrown Kenyan artists  some of whom have gained great fame internationally. Mo pearson and the Yellow Light Machine Band started us off with a some soft rock while Mutheu Mbondo, Mutinda and Atemi rocked the house with their amazing vocals. Absolut Vodka sponsored the evening giving our guests an absolutely amazing experience with their enjoyable variety of cocktails.

Kids having fun during the  Open day

Kids having fun during the Open day

And then there was the after party with barbecue and good music

And then there was the after party with barbecue and good music

The 254 Open Golf Tournament

The 254 Open golf tournament was a networking event aimed at bringing Kenyans from the diaspora together with Kenyans closer to home. It was held at the Winsor Golf and Country Club on the 21st of December with all proceeds going to the Akili Dada mentorship programme.  This programme that aims at empowering  young women through education.

Kuona was invited and given the opportunity to showcase the best of African art in the Kenyan market as well as build awareness on the contemporary visual arts scene in Kenya.  These type of events have increased our audiences and we are seeing between 30-50% increase in visitors to the art centre.


Ermias Ekube working on a guest’s potrait


Some of the artwork on display during the event


Anne Feenstra

Anne Feenstra is an architect who owns an architectural firm in Afghanistan that has made a tremendous contribution to the lives of ordinary people. Together with his team, Anne has managed to build homes and commercial buildings using locally available materials while  incorporating modern technology at the same time. Among these are the use of solar panels and internal cooling systems. They have also built bridges and several maternity hospitals greatly enhancing the welfare of the local afghan communities.

During his presentation at Kuona Trust, Anne Feenstra was able to share the inspiration behind his work, the medium he uses and the value he continues to add to the community through his work.  He also talked about his interesting concepts and particularly one on the use of the ‘Pakul’ in Afghanistan. The Pakul is a soft, round-topped hat worn by the men and is  typically made of wool and found in any of a variety of earthy colors including brown, black, gray, and  ivory. He showed us images of some of his photography work where he  has photographed the different designs and colours of the Pakul which forms a great part if the people’s culture.

Anne during his presentation in one of the artist studios at Kuona Trust

Anne during his presentation in one of the artist studios at Kuona Trust

Hans Doctor

In attendance, Hans Doctor,Head of Development corporation RNE

Mirjam Devrendt

It is not always easy to bring out elements such as emotions and texture on a photograph. Mirjam Devrendt has however managed  to capture the story of a young artists Berlinde De Bruyckere who looks at the plight of horses during the two world wars as well as other body  forms that make up the human body. Mirjam has captured the various installations by Berlinde to great detail depicting how  fragile we are as human beings.

With the use of various analogue cameras  Mirjam is able to find the perfect balance between the light and position of the installations that bring out a wealth of emotions.

During her visit to Kenya where she was part of an exhibition Funua-Fufuka, Mirjam had the chance to pass by our centre and exchange ideas with the other artists in the space who were quite interested in her journey as a photographer as well as her astonishing techniques.


Mirjam Devrendt

Installation by Berlinde-Bruyckere

Installation by Berlinde-Bruyckere

New residents

Kuona Trust’s residency program  functions as a platform to facilitate transfer of knowledge and skills  in the visual arts. Each year we welcome a few individuals who are masters in the medium they work in to come into the space learn from it and also leave an impact on the other artists.They also get to teach workshops,take part in  mentorship programs and exhibit some of their work in our gallery.

Phillips Ezekwe

Our new resident artist is a sculptor from Nigeria known as Phillips Nzekwe who has managed to make sculptures that seem to jump out from the surface and capture the attention of the onlooker leaving him in great awe. Nzekwe has taken part in several solo and group exhibitions establishing a strong name for himself in the sculpting field.He is on a 6 week residency programme at Kuona Trust after which he is set to exhibit some of his works at the national museum.

Phillips will be teaching a sculpting class from the 16th to the 21st of September 2012.


Phillips Nzekwe working in his studio at Kuona trust

Chris Paul Daniels

Chris is a film and video maker who graduated from the Royal collage of Arts in 2010 with a masters in communication and art design .He is currently working with Unravel Film and will be at Kuona Trust for a 6 week residency programme.

For more info about Chris Daniel’s work visit his website

Kuona resident chris Paul Daniels

Kuona Trust resident chris Paul Daniels


Riziki by Thom Ogonga

Riziki was the title of Thom Ogonga’s exhibition held in November last year at the Alliance Francaise. The artist, who is currently based at the GoDown Arts Centre exhibited a variety of paintings and prints which portrayed the common day situations we witness or find ourselves in on a regular basis. Ogonga has managed  to keep his cohorts eager for more as his work continues to  taps into the fiber of relationships that make up the society.

Thom ogonga

Ordinary People Ordinary Politics

Michael Nyawanda’s exhibition ‘Ordinary People Ordinary Politics’ came at the perfect time with barely two months left before the general elections. The exhibition opened at the Nairobi national museum in November and came to an end on the 10th of December with a grand cocktail sponsored by Absolut Vodka.

Matatu in Movement by Dennis Muraguri

Dennis Muraguri has certainly established a name for himself with the matatu series that he has continued to develop over the last few months.With the matatu being the most commonly used means of transport in Kenya it has formed a large part of our culture as well as identity as a nation. Muraguri has  made a collection of prints, painting as well  as t shirts based on the same theme.

He recently collaborated with the Nishio Workshop Nairobi in an exhibition that sought to explore the world of the matatu mayhem. The exhibition is still on at the Le Rustique restaurant till the 15th of January 2012.Make sure you pass by and have a look at this awesome show.

Matatu project poster

 Mini art Sale comes to an ends

The Kuona Mini Art sale was on from the 15th of November to the 15th of December 2012. Various artwork was displayed in the Kuona gallery with prices ranging from Ksh 3000 to Ksh 15000.This was an initiative by the artists to make small pieces of art that were affordable to all while removing the pre conceived notion that art is only for the elite in society. We appreciate all those who came for the sale and also those who  bid online.

Kuona Trust min art sale

Shop update

New Member of Staff

Lynette Ngigi becomes the newest member to join the administrative team at Kuona Trust, joining us as the new sales executive in charge of the Kuona Art Shop. Having graduated from  Daystar University with a degree in communication, Lynette brings in a different dynamic to Kuona which focuses on customer service, hospitality and a new and vibrant outlook on the shop.

The shop has currently stocked up and you can now get all your art supplies directly from us including  acrylic paints, brushes, sketch books and canvas. Also in stock is the well sort after 2013 Kenya Art diary retailing at Ksh 1600/-. The KLA Festival (Kamplala Festival) 2012 catalogue is also out and those who missed out or would like to know more about the event can now do so through this catalogue.

Lynette W. Ngigi

Lynette W. Ngigi


1.Call for applications: de Appel Curatorial Programme 2013–2014

The programme  offers regular sessions with the tutorial team,various excursions (including a research trip to a destination outside of Western Europe), practice-related assignments, and the opportunity to meet with a large number of artists, curators, critics and other international professionals, through thematic seminars, studio visits and other encounters.Application deadline: January 14, 2013

Send applications digitally to: .  For further information please visit our website or contact:
Moosje Goosen (coordinator) or Nathalie Hartjes (coordinator)

2.Sanaa Bora Art Competition

Kenya Bankers Association and PAWA254 have come together to conduct an art competition dubbed “Sanaa Bora Art Competition”. The competition, which is run under the theme Positive Transformation Through Banking, seeks to engage caricaturists, cartoonists, sculpture artists, graffiti artists, sketch artists, photographers and painters to showcase their interpretation of the theme in an expressive and artistic manner. The competition which is divided into three categories:

1.    Youth (13years-18years) – Students enrolled full time in Primary School, high schools, colleges, community colleges, universities, trade schools, or professional schools (Design, Architecture, etc.) are eligible to enter.

2.    Amateurs – Individuals who earn part of their income from Art crafts including, sculptors, painters, sketch artist, multimedia artists.

3.    Professionals – Individuals who make their living from Art crafts including, sculptors, painters, sketch artist, multimedia artists.

The winner will walk away with Ksh 50,000; second finalist will take Ksh. 30,000 and Ksh.15,000 for the third to fifteenth placed finalist. The artworks of the winners will be exhibited at Kenya Bankers Association offices.

For more information visit the competition website:

3.Fayoum Winter Academy 2013

The academy is an opportunity for artists to meet in Fayoum, Egypt,for six weeks of artistic and cultural exchange. 10 international and10 Egyptian artists will live, work and develop ideas together and receive supervision from instructors that are available during the academy. Courses include painting, printmaking, sculpture, video & filming and performance & installation art. This year also musicians and writers are encouraged to apply.Send applications to:

4. INSAKARTISTS 2013 ( Insaka International Artists Workshop)

Interested visual artists are hereby invited to submit applications to participate in the 6th INSAKA workshop to be held from the 20th of August to the 3rd of November 2013.

Application deadline: 1st February 2013.

Send applications to

5.GUEST PROJECTS AFRICA 2013: Calling ALL Artists with African Heritage!

Submissions are now open for one more month, closing on Monday January 7th 2013.

Send submissions to be selected and showcased as part of a series of cutting edge African Art forms, through a platform for African artists of all disciplines including spoken word, dance, fashion, architecture, visual arts, and more.

6. Illustration Kenya

This is a group that aims to promote illustration in Kenya and aims to provide a forum where illustrators of all kinds can share ideas.

They  are planning some exciting activities over the following months and ask that those interested would join them. Check out their facebook pabe on:

7. Miniprint Annual 2012

This is an opportunity for artists that aims at gathering and exhibiting contemporary art print works from all over the world and to contribute to the contacts and the exchange between artists, art lovers and collectors and to stimulate the research into paper, ink and other materials used in print making.

Those wishing to participate can send an email to : |

Editorial note

Kuona editor

Quote of the month

The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.
~Pablo Picasso

Picture of the month

Some of the artists having fun on the beach after a hard day during one of the provisional workshop programmes in Watamu island off the Kenyan coast.

Kuona trust artists

Keep a look out for all the interesting events happening at Kuona trust this year and be part of each one. Have a fantastic 2013.

You may leave a comment.


Sculpting workshop by resident artist Phillips Nzekwe at Kuona Trust from the 16th-21st of January 2013

Join us as we learn some of the contemporary Nigerian sculpting techniques under the instruction of Phillips Nzekwe who is our current resident artist from Nigeria.

About the artist

Phillips started his creative life as both a painter and sculptor but came to the realization that to become master of his craft he has to choose one or the other. A lot of artists he felt were throwing away African forms in preference for Western ones; his choice was a deliberate decision to focus on what and how his ancestors practised the plastic arts. He also had another reason for his choice; Phillips wants to leave enduring works, works which he has created as the synthesis of the two worlds he inhabits, of African  and Western ideology AND to replace for future generations some of  the art misappropriated during the colonial times.  He says his works are ‘archival material which create a link between our past, present and future through an exploration of the formal elements”. His works arim at “celebrating Africa’s rich culture in re-constructing a new African Society that blends western and African traditional idealogies.”


Phillips Nzekwe working on a sculpture in his studio at Kuona Trust

                  Workshop dates: 16th-21st January 2013

                  Time: 10am -4pm

                  Charges: Ksh 500 for the full workshop which includes materials and lunch.

Exhibition: Dreams of Nairobi – Re Imagining Nairobi City, Jan. 19-Feb 15 2013 @ Goethe Institut

Towards vision 2030

Nairobi Now :: arts, culture and events

Opening Date: January 19, 2013
Venue: Goethe Institut
Time: 7 pm
Entry: Free

Exhibition Dates: January 21 to February 15, 2013
Entrance: Free

Nairobi is the largest city in East Africa with a population of more than 3 million people. The city faces rapid urbanisation which requires an urgent need for the development of architectural and urban design solutions that seek to inform the planning and architecture of future Nairobi.

Dreams of Nairobi is a themed architectural research and design initiative that culminates in an exhibition of 10 exemplary projects that offer the best responses to the specific urban design issues of Nairobi City. All projects were chosen according to their sensitivity to principles of Green design and sustainability. In addition, all projects offered a direct response to economic needs and aligned themselves with the plans considered by Vision 2030.

The exhibition is organised and curated by African Urban Futures…

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