The work of self-taught, Nairobi-based visual artist Cyrus Kabiru is imbued with benevolence. His artistic approach is dedicated entirely to objects and nature.
“Give back to nature by giving trash a second chance!”
Chosen, received, used, worn and then neglected, thrown away, abandoned, sometimes broken, damaged, or deformed objects turn out to be a boundless source of inspiration. Kabiru doesn’t have a simple approach to ‘recycling’. Above all else, he just wants to give back what he receives: ‘give back to nature by giving trash a second chance!’ He resents the image of African artists driven to ingenious means of creativity because they are poor and have access to very little… To Kabiru, these ‘humble’ objects represent a form of wealth, and he continues to push the boundaries of creativity even further by combining them with invented or borrowed technological innovation.
Through his works, Kabiru examines our relationship with objects, evidence of our history, driving our futures, our relationship with nature and, lastly, with ourselves.
In today’s constantly evolving world, they bear witness to the past but also share a vision of the future – a vision handed down by his father, who has inpired him since he was a child. This is evidenced by his latest project in progress, Black Mamba, in which he focuses on the typical Kenyan bicycle, doomed for extinction as they have been replaced, over the years, by other means of motorised transport such as mopeds and scooters. In his previous series, C-Stunners, in which sculptural spectacles combine salvaged items and ultra-futuristic design, the artist had already drawn upon family memories, the environment provided by Nairobi, a hub of technological innovation par excellence, and the vitality of Kenyan adolescents.
Through his works, Kabiru examines our relationship with objects, evidence of our history, driving our futures, our relationship with nature and, lastly, with ourselves. Our sense of empathy, benevolence, respect, and memory are conveyed between the lines. The artist, boundless in terms of medium (paint, sculpture, new technology), urges us ‘to think out of the box’, to broaden our vision of art, creativity, and of Africa.
An article by Nadine Hounkpatin
This article was written for The Art Momentum | ART X Lagos Artpaper. [French version inside]
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