Painters 2013

Samuel Githui

Samuel Githui is known for painting realistic versions of familiar city scapes of Nairobi, his hometown. His city scenes make people smile at the wit, intelligence and capacity of the human spirit and to grimace at the faltering social and political system that necessitates living so precariously. But in Lamu, Githui is always in awe at the tranquillity he experiences, as if the sea washes over him erasing the noise, the hustle and the rough edges of Nairobi from his skin. “The rich culture and the environment in Lamu,” he gently reflects, “is like no other place. It is as life should be.” Githui has visited Lamu numerous times, for art festivals and workshops as well as visiting on his own initiative. That speaks volumes.

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What he likes about the Lamu Painters Festival is working in public and on site. “I am used to sketching, then taking the sketches back to my studio to work on them in oils,” he says. “That’s why working in the open air and painting in public is a good experience. You transform the moment into artwork there and then.” In the open, artists do interact with the public, often a group of people stand by watching and making comments, visibly moved by colours creating forms that are recognizable. Githui enjoys boat rides and visiting villages like Maweni and Matondoni, modes of traveling and places so different from his usual haunts. “When I visit Lamu,” he says, “I am always surprised by the new ideas I have later and how these ideas come out in my work.”

Samuel Githui was born in 1973 in Kenya. He studied visual arts at the Creative Art Centre in Nairobi and survived in the city by painting billboards and signs. Later, Githui won several national competitions including the Kenya Museum Society Art Festival and the Alliance Française and the Goethe Institut Juried Art Competition. He has also participated in the East African Biennale in Bujumbura and Kigale. Githui was selected for an artist in residence program in Venice, Italy and his residency work was exhibited in the show “Art Enclosures” in the same city. This is Githui’s second time to participate in the Lamu Painters Festival.