NEW ONLINE ART GALLERY DEBUTS IN SAFFRON SPA
BY Margaretta wa Gacheru (posted 8 may 2017)
Spanish artist and architect Veronica Paradinas Duro understands that the best way to promote Kenyan art and artists on a global platform is to get them online in an attractive visual art gallery that can bring their best works to the attention of international audiences.
Her GravitArt Gallery is such an online art space. It’s one that Veronica, 32 has been planning since late last year. But she’s been meeting up with local artists ever since she first arrived in Kenya three years ago.
She’d been invited by a team of European architects to come here and join them after they’d seen the quality of her work online. She couldn’t resist accepting the challenge and seeing what opportunities might open up to her in Nairobi.
Over the last three years, she’s designed everything from private homes to public offices. But as she’d done a double major at University of Madrid in both architecture and fine art, she wasn’t fully satisfied doing architecture without being more actively engaged in the local art scene.
“Through my architectural work, I learned a lot about web design, so it seemed logical to apply that skill in ways that could assist my artist friends who are Kenyans,” said Veronica who launched her website late last week (April 27) with a pop-up exhibition of 11 Kenyan and Kenya-based artists at the Saffron Spa.
“A spa may not seem like an appropriate space to have an art exhibition,” said veronica who had been an arrangement with Saffron’s management to keep last Friday evening open just for her exhibition of artists’ works that are also the first 11 on her website.
“Unfortunately, there were a few [spa] clients who came for appointments that night,” she added. But it all worked out well in the end since the spa itself is an elegant venue that was beautifully well lit for an exhibition of paintings and sculptures that were easily found all over the spa.
“One of my Spanish friends is a chef so he created a creative culinary installation that was also quite beautiful,” she added.
The 11 artists whose works are on still display and which will be until …. May… are Abusharia Ahmed, El Tayeb, Dickson Kaloki, Justus Kyalo, Shabu Mwangi, Dennis muraguri, Peter Elungat, etc.
Veronica isn’t certain when or where she will have another pop up exhibition, but the current one is filled with colorful, mainly abstract expressionistic paintings, clearly a style that the curator admires.
An artist in her own right, Veronica is quite versatile as she blends fine art into her architectural work. Her most recent focus has been on etching in brilliant colors
As for the artists she has selected to highlight first, what makes her selection exceptional is that most of them have produced fresh new work, coincidentally with their online debut at Gravitart. The most stunning change one could see in artistic style is with Fitsum who is best known from his striking and powerful faces. But at the spa, he has gotten much more playful blending a glorious mix of bright cacophonic colors. He still works around a human face within a brighter almost carnival-like context.
What’s clear about the first 11 artists is they are keen to open up their artwork to wider realms of appreciation which is likely come forth. The assurance comes not just from the quality of their own art but that of veronica’s web design which is simple, clear, and comprehensive.