A few minutes spent in artist Augustine Hakizimana’s company will possibly make you feel calmer and more relaxed. His smile and easy-going way are that infectious. However, beneath his calmness lies a busy creative mind. It is the driver behind his agile paint brush.
The 25 year old Kigali native began painting in 2008 at the age of 20 and since then his unique works have been exhibited in Rwanda and beyond.
Painting in acrylic, Hakizimana uses g colors and inventive forms to capture life in the village, highlight the role of women, and showcase the environment of East Africa. He also creates abstract pieces that engage the viewer’s imagination.
Although he has never had official art classes, even at a young age his drawing demonstrated his artistic talent. Hakizimana was working at a Tolero cafeacute when an established Rwandan artist saw some of the sketches he was doing this artist put his sketch on a canvas which he later showed to him.
“I sold my first art piece at 70 dollars which motivated me to take it on as a career,” Hakizimana recalls.
Today, you will often find Augustine at Uburanga Arts Studio creating a painting, painting a mural, or working on an art installation in the garden. He also continues to develop his talents with his membership in Isoko Arts Rwanda, an association of Rwandan fine artists.
Augustine’s work speaks of the creativity and vision of one of the youngest Rwandan artist active today. The combination of his unique vision and traditional Rwandan images and his subject matter make for a truly worthwhile artistic endeavor.
“I find art as the only way I can freely express myself and tell a story in a unique way. My art works are an expression of the different life here in my society and neighboring communities, drawing from experiences of women who today are fundamental and play an important role in the upbringing of children.”
“The struggles faced in life while still managing to raise children in a way, tells the story and challenges of the African woman today, who are suffering due to poverty, episodes of war.” he narrates
In March 2013, the self-taught artist established several project under Agasozi Art project in, Rwanda. At the Agasozi, he teaches youth and women (orphans and single mothers) painting and handicrafts, using art as a medium for empowerment and expression with an aim of providing economic opportunities, especially to girls.
The artist envisions shaping an environment which inspires learning, creativity, freedom of expression, and the gaining of new skills as a tool to development and self-reliance among children, youth and their families. “My desire is to make art known right from the grass roots and incorporate it in the education curriculum to help young ones identify and nature their talents at an early stage. There is also need to change people’s mindset on art it is only a few people who have lived abroad who understand the power of art which is a challenge. Most of our clients are foreigners.”
Despite being understood by few locals, art is slowly gaining momentum in Rwanda and one can solely depend on it as a profession.
Hakizimana is among the few artists in the country reaping big from his art work he took the second prize for talent T-shirt an art competition that takes place in Italy in 2013 in this competition they select 3 artists from Africa and the best win a cash prize as well as having your art work printed on T-shirts which they later sell to the public in Italy. He has also exhibited his art work in foreign countries like Japan, Canada plus Germany and is a member of the East African BNR which is a group of selected top artists in the region and beyond. Locally Hakizimana has held both solo and group exhibitions most of which are in honor of women.
Source : The Independent