Sunday, 26 November 2017


Why this session on How to write about contemporary Kenyan art critically and creatively? (GIVEN at Brush tu art studio, Saturday November 25, 2017)

                                                                                       At Venice Biennale 2017 Colourfall by Ian Danford
1.     Mentoring: people always talk about the need to mentor, to share/pass on information. I’ve been doing this work a long time and feel there needs to be more.

2.     Writing is IMPORTANT: writing for media is WRITING THE FIRST DRAFT OF HISTORY.

3.     PUBLIC RECORD: If Kenyan artists not written about, there won’t be public record about them. As if they don’t exist. Future researchers on Kenyan art won’t know about artists like Etale Sukuro, Eric Ndovu, John Diang’a or even Charles sekano.

4.     I wrote about all of them but they could be forgotten if we don’t write

5.     Demystifying the process: not elite. Anyone can write about art (don’t need art school). U do need to:

a.      Visit as many exhibitions, artists’ studios as you can

b.     Read other people’s reviews from top publications. Study them, the structure, the styles, the tone of the writing

c.      Yes go to archives, go online but much more not online

d.     Yes, read art books, read online info but don’t take online as gospel. Eg.

e.      One online guide said all you need is to i. Describe what you see, ii. Analyze parts (form,color,line,texture,tone,shape,pattern, light/dark, bright/dull, composition), iii. Interpret: figure out meaning (how?), iv. Judgement (what? Who’s perspective? How do you judge?

6.     GENRE of Not just painting, drawing sculpture, print-making, photography, but also architecture, murals, collage and so many techniques, media

7.     But several key points the art books don’t necessarily cover: like the 5 W’s+1H: who,what,where,when,why and how?

8.     Also, when writing, who is your AUDIENCE? Academic, popular, just artists, local, global? etc.

9.     CRITIQUE: Now it’s time for you to critique some works.

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