NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 30 – When President Uhuru Kenyatta toured the United States in August last year, he presented a special gift to former US President George W. Bush to appreciate his effort in combating HIV/Aids in Africa during his tenure.
The gift was a painting done by renowned Kenyan visual artist Patrick Kinuthia.
Titled “Ni Hoja, Lakini Si Hoja”( It’s an issue but not a crisis), the painting was an acrylic on canvas measuring 100cm by 150cm, featuring a couple standing before a group of women in an open air market.
When I meet Kinuthia for a one-on-one interview, he is full of humility and poise despite his triumph in the arts industry.
“I am a visual artist but I categorise myself as a semi-impressionist artist. This is whereby if I was to commission your portrait, I will draw with a bit of realism, but I will also put a bit of colours on your face to give more of your expression; something I saw inside of you. Like if I saw that you’re kind of melancholic I might decide to put a lot of blue on the painting,” he enlightens me.
Some of other major paintings he has done include a gift to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former President Mwai Kibaki and the late Cabinet Minister John Michuki among others.
“Another person who has supported my work is your Chairman Dr Chris Kirubi. He is a good promoter of my work and I would like to thank him a lot. He has bought so much from me but one of the exciting one is a painting I did for him of three Maasai men jumping,” he says smiling.
Kinuthia realised his drawing talent when he was 12 years old in primary school. But he has had to go through a myriad of challenges over the years to change this talent into business.
In 1997, Kinuthia quit his job of seven years “unceremoniously” as a graphic designer and had to start from scratch. With no monthly income, his paintings initially managed to cater for his Sh1,200 house rent in Thika and food.