In October of last year, I was invited by Kuona Trust, museum art studio, Kenya to become an artist in residence for a period of two months. I accompanied three other well-known artists who were also invited along on this aesthetically ambitious journey. Coming from countries as diverse as Uganda, Ghana and Egypt, each of them helped me discover distinct facets of the African spirit. During our first month in Kenya we lived surrounded by nature's inspiring serenity, at the retreat of a guest artist studio overlooking magnificent Lake Naivasha approximately 70 kilometers from the capital of Nairobi. Kenya and the captivating Lake Naivasha where we resided had an indescribable and profound affect on me.
Throughout most of my beautiful two-month stay in Kenya I was completely detached from memories of the past, freed from immediate responsibilities, even finding myself unconcerned about many things which I had previously looked forward to for the future. I was absorbed by the surrounding beauty, caught up in the urgent moments of each new discovery of a world so uniquely different from mine. I became gradually immersed every intimate detail, enthralled by every majestic vista. I soon felt compelled to abandon my previous notions of the nature and accept an exciting new view of the world around me.
The scorched winds and blazing sunshine against my shin. The natural habitat enigmatically defined by the ancient language of broad horizons, masking its spiritual scheme and revealing no secrets of its indigenous species and wild creatures. The quiet hours of crisp cool evenings, immersed in keen conversation before a huge open fire, a cherished daily ritual for all of us before we tuck away our untamed thoughts into the dark ashes of the night. Early whispers of the next day dawning, morning comes with a comforting sense of endurance, the timeless cycle of survival which contributes to a better understanding of the way things are, acceptance of the way things shall ever be.
Yet, full understanding comes only with the willingness to explore, to seek answers, to delve deeper and deeper into all the essential lessons nature has to share. Amidst the vast open skies above, signs of renewal emerge in few droplets of morning dew upon the tall grass below, and the harsh desert dryness at first appears no different from the thorns on the stems of trees and shrubs which were once alive. Still, this seemingly severe existence is not to be looked upon with resistance, rather it should be embraced and rejoiced with thoughtful acknowledgment that this too is an inherent part of the beauty of nature. That these relentless rhythms embody the natural wonders which give birth to life's diversity, easing the passage of some while forever offering rebirth to others, enhancing the vibrancy of life with parallel balance, equally stern and loving, the eternal harmony of nature. An obscure curtain is often drawn as one's continuous search for inner truth and the understanding of Self prevents us from clearly seeing beyond the immediate images of daily demands which have come to guide our lives. But a genuine sense of nature's equality requires more than any simple exclusive image, more than just a passing thought in one's mind, a fleeting wish among other's. For nature's true equality encompasses all things, bonding with changeless elemental parallels across all living creatures on earth, inspiring and strengthening our lives with each breath we take.
Reluctant to leave the scenic splendor but eager to share our rich experiences, we all returned to Nairobi for the exhibition at Nairobi Museum Art Gallery at the end of our second month. Sheltered once again within the disciplined confines of an urban environment, we focused on the enthusiastic process of developing our impressions into tangible aesthetic concepts, creating the work which would be displayed in the city's public places. Our friend from Uganda revealed his creative expression in concrete, solid presentations of ethereal emotion which became a permanent exhibition at Nairobi's public park and national museum. Large lucid billboards erected througout Nairobi were the legacy of our Cairo artist, graphic images on a grand scale. Our Ghana friend and I conceived a permanent exhibition in Nairobi's city-center Jee Van Jee Garden Public Park, reflecting the new bond of kinship to our host country and expressing our deep respect for the natural wonders of Kenya.