Interview: Gilles from Green Hills Academy

Gilles Dusabe - Teacher & Artist

Gilles is a colleague of a friend of mine who I met while checking out the Green Hills art exhibition last month. As well as teaching, he’s been working on his own projects which you can see at his upcoming exhibition this weekend. Download his flyer for more info.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am an art teacher and an contemporary artist. I work mainly with video but also explore other ways of expression and production such as interactive sculpture, painting or installation. I grow up in Geneva, Switzerland but left 15 years ago. My name is Gilles Grassioulet and I consider myself an nomad.

When did you come to Rwanda and what brought you here?

I am married to a Rwandese woman and we decide to come back a year ago to her homeland after many years abroad. This decision to live in Kigali was a logical choice for both of us.

What sort of work are you doing in Rwanda?

I have been working as the Art and Design teacher of Green Hills Academy for one year. This department is providing students the chance to explore many mediums such painting, architecture, photography, sculpture, different designs and others. As well as teaching, I am producing art at my studio in Kanombe.

How has your experience been so far teaching in Rwanda?

The experience of teaching here has been so far total bliss. To see each day the emancipation of youngsters at Green Hills is my driving force as an art teacher. It is a great challenge and is amazing to see young people express their visions, emotions, hope, desire and their ideals. The students have depth and are so open to new perspectives and new mediums.

How important are the arts in Rwandan schools?

I think more and more. I got great support lately from my director to develop the art department into one of the best in East Africa and hopefully soon in Africa.

Do you feel like parents see the arts as an important part of the school curriculum?

More efforts should be given to informing parents about the importance of creativity in the development of young people. Misunderstanding and ignorance could lead to the perception of arts as an amusement or a entertainment instead of as a way of reflecting and understanding yourself and your identity.

You held an art show recently displaying your student’s work. What sort of reaction did that get?

The feedback of the student’s work was fantastic proving, again, the high interest to the arts in Kigali. People were surprised by the range of mediums displayed at the show.

Is there a place for fine arts students in Rwanda or will they need to go abroad to pursue work opportunities?

The Art Department in Butare University seems the only Fine Arts undergraduate program. KIST seems more focused on various design and architecture courses and the Kwetu Film Institute has film-related programs. So yes students can continue their creative development in the country without going abroad.

Are you involved much in the arts scene in Rwanda?

As someone pretty new in Kigali, I am starting to meet artists/film makers and people who are involved in the arts scene but obviouly, I would love to meet more creative people. It is a bursting scene with high energy and interest.

What do you think of Rwanda’s arts scene?

There are some cool centers such as Ishyo Center for concerts, theatre and dance. The Ivuka Arts Center is one of the best place for Fine Arts painting with great artists and good vibes. Otherwise the Uburanga Arts Studio and the two galleries in KBC building deserve a look as well.

What is your art background in Switzerland?

Actually I never studied in Switzerland but graduated in the Chelsea Art School, Glasgow School of Art (BA Painting) and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels (MA Art Ed). Also I did a two years Postgrade of Contemporary Arts in CCA Kitakyushu in Japan. I exhibited in many different countries and participated in few Art/Film Biennale.

You’re an artist yourself, what sort of work do you do?

My artwork is mainly on experimental loop video and film projected in galleries, museums and film festivals. I also enjoy producing artwork which involves the notion of interactivity and participation between/with spectators.

Anyone who is interested has the opportunity to see some of my work in Kigali during a solo exhibition called The Bliss of the Unknown on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th of May 2012 from 1pm to 6pm in the Sunset Villas in Kibagabaga. Hope to see you there!

About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.