Kenyan artist April Kamunde is a visual artist from Nairobi, Kenya, with an exciting artistic career. She is a talented artist who has boldly asserted herself on the contemporary African scene. She explains that she was at the beginning of the discovery of her artistic career when she moved from designing portraits to creating figurative works of art. A part-time practising artist for 17 years, April Kamunde chose the period of the pandemic to definitively integrate the art world by becoming a full-time artist.
April Kamunde‘s perception of art gradually evolves with her experiences. At first, she had no real understanding of her artistic talent. However, when she sold one of her works for the first time to a close friend in high school, she acquired certain work references that made her aware of her talent for art. Since then, she has seen art as a secondary hobby that could be profitable enough to supplement her school fees. She continues to make other artistic works on a part-time basis and to improve the contours of her artistic technique.
Over time, she developed a passion for the discipline and decided to give up a lucrative job, where she describes the working environment as burdensome and grueling, to devote herself to her passion. April Kamunde got in touch with experienced full-time artists to learn all the rudiments of the life of a dedicated artist. These experiences, along with discussions with other contemporary artists, have enabled her to build the foundations of her current art, which has been perfected through her creations.
Today, the Kenyan artist gives us a pleasant visual insight. Through the lush backdrops of these works and the beauty of her subjects, we sense the delicacy and gentleness of April Kamunde’s brushstrokes. Her work is based on an autobiographical origin, in which she tells intimate, personal stories. She works mainly in oils, an element that offers a singularly captivating panorama to these paintings and compels viewers to admire and feel the natural, gentle presence of the figures painted in these works. By drawing on shared experiences, April Kamunde gives all audiences access to the interpretation of her art and thus engages in a fluid discussion with these third parties.
The female figures in April Kamunde‘s paintings are dressed in the relaxed garb commonly known as the Dera (long Somali dress) and depicted in a green environment surrounded by natural wildlife. Through this depiction, she describes women’s retreat from societal and cultural expectations to a raw, natural place full of life to recharge their batteries and take some “me time”.
With a personal feminist approach, her work addresses these small moments of pause to refocus on oneself. In search of a moment’s rest from her recent experiences of the pandemic, and in a fast-paced Nairobi, she says: “I invite the public to scrutinize the moments of pause and introspection experienced by the women featured in the work. I explore what it looks like to choose oneself, take up space, slow down and unburden oneself in today’s demanding world.”
April Kamunde‘s group shows include “Walking the Edge” at Afriart Gallery, 2022; “Shapes of Water” also at Afriart Gallery, 2023 and “Eastern Voices: Contemporary Art from East Africa” at Addis Fine Art, London, 2023. She took part in INVESTEC Cape Town Art Fair and African Galleries Now x Artsy in 2023, then completed a three-month residency at Silhouette Projects, Kampala, in 2022.