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East Africa Art

Nov 14 '12

Notes from Ed Cross Fine Art

Cyrus Kabiru is one of the most exciting of the younger artists to have emerged from Nairobi over the last few years. Kabiru has just completed his first international exhibition at Kuntspodium T Gallery in Tilburg, Holland which included an installation of his signature ‘C Stunner glasses’ made from recycled materials, each with its own story and together creating a powerful metaphor around the way Africa is perceived by the outside world and vice versa.

Kabiru has been creating his ‘spectacles’ since childhood when he started to produce toys for his age-mates as a way of bartering his way through school work. The origins of his attachment to glasses stem from his father’s neurosis about them (in turn caused by the fact that Cyrus’s grandfather punished his father severely when, as a boy, he lost a pair of glasses that the family had made great sacrifices to provide him with). It is a universal story of poverty and the struggle to overcome it. Cyrus’s father scarred by his father’s fury when his attempts to help his son with his eyesight came to nought. The father, still mired in poverty, instilling in his son, Cyrus, a bizarre reverence for the things that he himself lost through carelessness - the son responding to this creatively - by reproducing again and again, the object of his father’s pain and his grandfather’s hope. In so doing, creating a contemporary folk tale through finding fame and fortune through his ‘glasses’ sufficient to lift him out of the poverty that his father and grandfather wished to overcome.

This is the psychological background to the C-Stunners series but the works are rich in social comment too. Each with its own story from glasses with bars that evoke the jails of Nairobi to those with spent bullets that tell their story of criminal or police brutality. Also a love for nature that fuels the artist’s desire to recycle as part of a process of protecting the environment.

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