Kigali show reflects on life during a global pandemic

Sunday November 29 2020

An aerial image by Andre Rugema and Pasicique Ligana Mugemana on show at an exhibition organised by Isi Art Community. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE


With countries responding to the effects of Covid-19 in various ways, the arts have been at the fore of disseminating information. In particular, Rwandan visual artists have teamed up to reflect and share their experience about the pandemic.

A joint exhibition dubbed A Snippet of Rwandan Artists’ journey during Covid-19 has been on show at Envision Rwanda Art Studios in Kimihurura, Kigali.

Organised by Isi Art Community, a youth initiative dedicated to preserving society’s experiences through the eyes of local visual artists, the exhibition brings together over 15 artists.

The show features paintings, art sculptures, photography and a video installation.

Rukundo Muhire Twinkie’s three photographs are striking. Lost Feelings depicts a young lady covered in masks represents the loneliness and trauma of Covid-19.

The image comes with the poem: ‘Virus, you got the world on pause, and got me trapped, turned me into my own prisoner self. I created characters as a connection in a chain, to make sure I could endure the dejection. Tragic that notwithstanding it all, I was still lonely.’


Splash of symbolism

Jean Luc Ntizandekura reflects on gender-based violence. His two-piece embroidery, acrylics on canvas titled Drained, which measures 50cm by 70cm, depicts a fight between a married couple. The lady is symbolised by many threads to reflect direction and ambition, while the man holds flowers to show affection and love.

The painting Blind Spot by Gulain Iradukunda reflects on the debate about whether Covid-19 is real. It features a young man whose eyes are fully covered by a face mask.

Louise Kanyange’s 100cm by 100cm mixed media painting titled True Love illustrates relationships. It has a couple holding hands while facing forward and they aren’t held back by ropes, implying overcoming boundaries. This resonates with many couples whose relationships have been tested during the lockdown.

Gislain Mugisha’s ballpoint pen three-piece collection dubbed Slaves, features images of young faces clogged by electrical accessories like phone chargers, USB cables and other items used to access the Internet.

Maximilliene Muhawenimana’s installation Life is a Journey is of a flying eagle done in wood, wire mesh, and other materials. Through her paintings titled Loving to be a Woman, and Thoughts, Greta Ingabire shares her perspective on how society views women as weak.

Seleman Kubwimana explores the relationship between humans and animals. His collection of over 10 paintings titled Wildlife features cats, lions, zebras, gorillas dressed in African outfits, while doing human activities like going to the salon, street hawking, babysitting, and others.

Rugema and Pasicique Ligana Mugemana have a series of photographs titled Rwanda’s Response to Covid-19. They have a mini-photo section dubbed Lockdown 250, that has pictures of people cooking, girls plaiting their hair, a family watching TV, parked cars and empty streets.

The exhibition also features a video about Rwanda’s response to Covid-19. It shows public health experts carrying out tests; police operations; transport systems during lockdown; use of robots and drones as part of government responses. There are plans to host it in additional venues.