A couple of friends of mine have spent plenty of time hanging out at this art studio and put me in touch with Jean Bosco. As an artist at the Uburanga Arts Studio, he’s on the cutting edge of contemporary art in Rwanda and if you’re hoping to tap into Kigali’s art scene, he’s a good guy to get to know.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Bakunzi Jean Bosco, I was born and raised in Kigali Rwanda.
How did you become interested in art?
I am a self thought visual artist. Since my child hood i was always interested in art, I am also glad that when i was growing up, my life was always close to the artists community. I grew up in Nyamirambo were i was born as well, there was a group of the artists who were working in different media (illustration, design) and there was a painter/fashion designer called Bill who was among the best artists in Rwanda but who finally moved to France. I was always happy to visit these guys and get inspiration from them. I am also glad that i have got to work with them until 2008 when i met Collins, the Ivuka art founder.
What sort of artwork do you do?
In my works I focus on painting. I love semi abstract works. I also do sculptures using recycling materials.
What is the Uburanga Arts Studio?
Uburanga Arts studio it is founded it since March 2010 with a goal of developing Rwandan fine art scene and bringing together visual artists. I believe that this is something that has changed the view of Kigali city. It provides the artists a place for a workshop and helps us to have a place to share our inspirations and exhibit art in our gallery. With this studio I have a quote that says “Art heals people physically, mentally and emotionally.” This studio brings a benefit to the Rwandan community, especially the youth where I and other artists volunteer to give art lessons to at orphanages and to some children at our location. We also plan some entertainment shows with a goal of encouraging the youth to discover their talents and promote peace through art and sports.
How long have you been involved in the Uburanga Arts Studio and what is your role?
I am involved in Uburanga since March 2010 until now, and i am looking forward to giving it a better future.
How many artists call the studio home and what sort of work do they do?
In our gallery we have over 12 artists from different places of Rwanda, and 7 of them they work from here all the time.
How can people see the work you’re doing?
Uburanga is a Kinyarwanda world that means the”beauty”. Come to visit us to witness genuine of Rwandan fine art paintings and sculptures displays and exhibitions, enjoy a unique shopping experience and hang out in one of Kigali’s most inviting and relaxing atmospheres. Our studio is located in Kimihurura on Rugando Street, take the cobblestone road behind Lemigo Hotel. People appreciate so much the work we are doing and I am very thankful for everyone who is been supportive to our studio. This place is being appreciated by both expats and Rwandan people. I am also very proud of this place, because there is many youth in Rwanda with different ages who love to come to visit the studio, to see the amazing work we are doing and get inspiration from us. You are welcome to be a part of this!
Have you ever done exhibitions outside of Rwanda?
Yes I have done exhibitions in Canada, USA, and last March I was among the six artists who were chosen to participate in an arts exhibition in Germany. I am also looking forward to different exhibitions in the near future outside of Rwanda and in my country as well.
What do you think about Rwanda’s arts scene?
Rwanda’s art scene is doing not bad. Many artists are doing well as you can see there many different places where you can go and find arts and artists. There is potential in the artists, some artists are showing for really their talents and showing that they know what they are doing.
What can be done to encourage the arts in Rwanda?
In Rwanda arts is still suffering and there is so much to do to take it to another level, especially that we need arts schools here and professionals art dealers who can manage galleries. We need big workshops and we need more competitions because otherwise, some artists will sleep and think that they have got there but we still have a journey.
Can you recommend any other places for tourists and expats who are interested in the arts to visit while in Kigali?
There are many places you can visit to see Rwandan art. For me i would recommend you to visit first Uburanga Arts Studio. Also visit places like the Ishyo Arts Center where there are always different programs of art. You can also visit Ivuka Arts and the Inganzo Gallery. There very good Rwandan hand made crafts arts at Kaplaki and there are many fashion designer artists in Kigali who do well.