Unsellable art: What you need to know

Below is a press statement from the Network of Kenya Visual Artists (NKVA), who will be holding an exhibition, at the National Museums of Kenya starting Tuesday May 21 to June 4, 2013, titled Unsellable Art


50 years on; it is about time that visual arts in Kenya had a vital voice for good governance

Since its inception with collaboration of the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs through one of their initiatives, the Non State Actors Support Programme (NSA – NET), together with the European Union and the National Museums of Kenya, the Network of Kenya Visual Artists (NKVA) became the first national network ever put together by visual artists.

NKVA has come at the right time with the ushering in of a new government. A key agenda of the new government is job creation. The NKVA realizes this quest, and more so because it is embracing the concept of collective action for more economic empowerment. By sharing information, communicating better and finding viable solutions to artists’ common challenges, the network hopes to create more demand for art as well as sensitize the general population about art, for better engagement and business.

NKVA convinced that the myth that art is expensive can be addressed by repackaging it and also communicating the same to the target market. The quest for aesthetics in homes is intensifying especially with the expanding middleclass and therein lies the market that needs to be satisfied.

This power of unity amongst Kenyan artists will serve to protect the Kenyan artist from exploitation by middlemen and also encourage upcoming artists to pursue art as a career that can generate continuous and predictable income.

NKVA will use the one year it will be under the umbrella of NMK to reach out to all visual artists nationally and establish regional links. The exhibition questions where art in Kenya is today as Kenya prepares her jubilee celebration of 50 years.

This art exhibition “Unsellable Art” is an exhibition of extreme expressions by artists that address matters that touch on society and the individual. The concept is what is being referred to as ‘unsellable’ because normally people want to buy a piece of art that is ‘nice’ and beautiful with happy themes. Nobody wants to buy a painting that will remind them of injustices and other ‘uncomfortable’ issues of society. Unsellable does not mean the art works are ugly, on the contrary they are very beautiful pieces, strong and done by some of the top artists in Kenya. It is when one looks closely that they see the theme.

 The artists were given the freedom to showcase those pieces of art that they feel have a story behind them. Each art piece is accompanied by a caption so that the audience will be able to explore and interrogate the mind of the artist. Similar exhibitions by NKVA in the regions are taking place at Mombasa (Alliance de Mombasa 17 May – 7 June) and Kisumu Museum (25 May – 8 June)