Abdul Kiprop’s many milestones on self-discovery journey – Business Daily
Stifling Freedom artwork by Abdul Kiprop. PHOTO | MARGARETTA WA GACHERU | NMG
When Abdul Kiprop made the move from Eldoret to Nairobi, he had no idea that what he would find was a fascinating career path in the arts that would change the course of his life.
“I came because I knew I had things to learn that I wasn’t going to get in Eldoret,” the Egerton university graduate told the BDLife shortly after the Collective’s recent Open House on October 6th.
But through friends, he had heard about an artist named Michael Musyoka who was a co-founder of Brush tu Artists Collective. So, he sought Musyoka out, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Abdul started off as an apprentice to Musyoka. “I was fortunate to have arrived at Brush tu during the time the Danish Embassy was assisting the collective,” he recalls. Among the support given by the Danes was a series of print workshops run by several local artists at the collective’s home based in Buruburu Phase one.
“First came Thom Ogonga who taught us about woodcut printing. After that, Peterson Kamwathi shared his knowledge about aquatint [printing], and finally, Wycliffe Opondo showed us how to do dry-point printing,” says Abdul, remembering the guys who first opened his eyes to the amazing art of printmaking.
“I also went to Red Hill Gallery and saw some of Jak Katarikawe’s prints which were interesting. I also saw Dennis Muraguri’s woodcut prints first at Circle Art and later at the Nairobi Museum,” adds Abdul, expressing appreciation for all the influences that he has taken to heart.
It has all been a kind of ‘crash course’ learning experience for him since he first arrived in Nairobi in 2017. At the same time, he already has a younger generation of Kenyans asking him to teach them about printmaking.
But the other major milestone in Abdul’s path to self-discovery was meeting Yony Waite, the Guam-born Kenyan artist who is based in Lamu at the Wildebeeste Workshop. In addition to her being a brilliant painter and the co-founder of the now-defunct Gallery Watatu, Yony is a printmaker with a large printing press at her Workshop.
Abdul has been to Lamu several times since he first went to attend the Lamu Art Festival. Subsequently, he has been twice with his Brush tu artists, once to teach printmaking to orphans at the Anidan Children’s Home, and several times to work at Wildebeeste, learning lots more about the various techniques of printmaking from Yony. “She invited me to an art residency at the Workshop where she let me work with the printing press nonstop,” he says.
Abdul was among the four Brush tu artists whose works were displayed at the Collective during their Open Day. Each of the four uses a different type of Ink which is why their exhibition was called ‘Ink Resonance’. For instance, Peteros Ndunge uses ballpoint ink to create his meticulously drawn human forms, while Boniface Maina works with acrylic ink as well as with Wilson & Newton water-resistant ink that he got from James Mbuthia back when he was running workshops at RaMoMa. And Abdul works with ordinary offset printers ink. “It’s the main printers ink available in Kenya,” Abdul notes.
But the inks are only a fraction of what is intriguing about his prints. What’s of greater interest is that he exhibited large woodcut prints on canvas during Brush tu’s recent open house.
“This was the first time I printed on canvas. I printed them with the press that I made myself,” he says, adding that he is in the process of making a second printing press for Brush tu artists to use. The first one he made with his own hands is up in his Eldoret studio.
Asking him where he learned to build a printing press and why, Abdul says he studied the construction of Yony’s press in Lamu and figured out how it was built. “Then I went and learned welding skills from Kimani Ngaru,” one of the Brush tu artists and a former principal at Buruburu Institute of Fine Art.
The reason why he has begun building presses of his own is most likely because he got ‘spoiled’ spending so much time with Yony’s press that he doesn’t want to be without one of his own.
So, from the look of things, there is little doubt that Abdul is hooked on printmaking. It has become a passion and the purpose that this artist was looking for.