Artist Portrait: Sane Wadu

Filmed by Matteo Lonardi, Commissioned by Haus der Kunst and NCAI

Sane Wadu was born in Nyathuna Kenya in 1954, developing an artistic practice and career spanning decades in which he has established his centrality to the development of Kenyan art. Notably, he co-founded the Ngecha Artists Association with his contemporaries: Eunice Wadu, Wanyu Brush and Chain Muhindi, providing critical support and training to generations of Nairobi-based artists.

In this video, Wadu begins to discuss his egalitarian philosophy and respect for the subjectivity of the artist, something which clearly underpins the ethos of the Ngecha community and movement.

Prior to becoming an artist, Wadu underwent multiple reconfigurations and transformations, working first as an educator, then as a court clerk, before transitioning into cultural production as a writer, playwright and theatre actor. As a self-taught artist practicing in the 1980s, Wadu had to navigate the pedagogical and formalistic constraints and expectations of commercial gallerists, realising that formally trained artists enjoyed greater success.

While gallerists questioned his commercial viability, his unwavering sense of self and persistence eventually led to the turning point in his career, when he met Ruth Schaffner of Gallery Watatu. He gained prominence for his complex, layered and dreamlike compositions and continues to be occupied with navigating anthropocentrism within society, the impact of technology within the social landscape and continuously pushing his self-expression and consciousness of animals and man alike.

#MwiliAkiliRoho is part of 'Michael Armitage, The Paradise Edict' at Haus der Kunst and runs till 14 February 2021. It features works by Meek Gichugu, Jak Katarikawe, Asaph Ng'ethe Macua, Theresa Musoke, Elimo Njau, and Sane Wadu. 

Writing by Mukami Kuria

©Haus der Kunst ©NCAI

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