Tribu Imaginaire (Imaginary Tribe), the last exhibition of the painter Nelson Niyakire in Burundi was a resounding success in Bujumbura, the capital city. The paintings from these series have been a bombshell during his last and recent exhibition in Kigali. Nelson’s work is meeting recognition and admiration from both sides of the Kanyaru.
Akeza.net meets the artist, bearer of light and hope, whose work seems to mock the borders between peoples and nations.
Akeza.net: You have recently made your 1st exhibition in Kigali. How was it? What memories do you keep?
Nelson Niyakire: The exhibition in Kigali was for me an incredible adventure on a personal and artistic level. I kept from this show unforgettable moments of exchange with every person I met. I also kept a nice impression of Kigali, an extremely active city, cosmopolitan and very modern.
I had the chance to work on this show with INNOVATION VILLAGE, who own the gallery, but beyond logistical support, INNOVATION VILLAGE has also provided moral support. Basically what I have gained from this exhibition in Rwanda is a feeling that I belong to a big familly.
Akeza.net: Rwandan franc is 2 times worth burundian franc. Should we think that you win doubles if you sell in Rwanda?
Nelson Niyakire: Honestly, the value of a painting or an artist is not measured in terms of money but compared to the emotion that the work can create in the audience. While the frwa is higher than the fbu, but what I care most is this interaction that I had with the Rwandan public.
Akeza.net Nelson is a painter, but also a photographer and designer. Do you feel you will have to choose some day?
Niyakire Nelson: I prefer to spend a little more time on art, specifically painting, to focus better on my inspirations.
Akeza.net: What are the next destinations?
Nelson Niyakire: for the next destinations, I really do not know, but one sure thing is that I want to reveal to the world what is happening in Burundi, first in neighboring countries, and after why not a little further (smiles).
The art market is a very complex world, there are no specific locations. This is a rather virtual market, so I’m still trying to understand the various workings of this market.
Akeza.net: What are Nelson’s ambitions as an artist?
Niyakire Nelson: I want to see the Burundian art scene recognized locally and internationally to its fair value. Personally, I would love to be able to exhibit all over the world and meet other artists because for me the imagination of an artist is nourished by exchange and sharing.
Akeza.net: What other artists / entrepreneurs / young Burundians inspire you?
Nelson Niyakire: Burundi inspires me a lot, despite the ups and downs that the country experienced. The people of Burundi are the image of their country, who despite the pain and almost permanent problems keep smiling and have a great thirst for Life, to me that’s what inspires me, this is not one or two people but 10million BURUNDIANS.
Interview by Landry MUGISHA