Eunju Nam

Artist of lively colours

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Love & Harmony of Kenya (2013) - Part 1

A Korean’s intimate Kenyan Experience

Ms. Nam’s work is a summary of her experiences with the Kenyan people, wildlife and environment. Having studied Art since she was 15, she is a well-known artist from Korea specializing in oil painting. Coming from Korea she was really struck by the beauty and the people of Kenya and decided to express this in Painting. What is most striking about her work is the Subjective use of colour to express the energy in her subjects and environment. The influence of 20th century European artists such as Henry Mattisse, Chagall, Dufy and Monet, her favourite artists is evident as well as Van Gogh in her colours and brushstrokes.

 A casual look at her paintings leaves the viewer thinking that the colours are raw and done in a hurry but upon closer observation one realizes that she is more interested in the energy and psyche of the Kenyan Scenery and people. She creates tension by use of warm, vibrant colours pulsating with energy. She expresses the Kenyan by symbolically using the hot/warm palette. The skies are strikingly red or yellow perhaps reminiscent of the African sunsets. Her subject matter or content is very empathetic to the Kenyan situation and she paints as one. Her Maasai are contemporary and wear modern clothes. They do not dress up for her but they go about their lives and she truthfully captures their reality today.

 To the majority of Koreans Africa is just a fantasy and mysterious place and her shared experience does a lot to put East Africa in context. As one of the very few Korean Artists to paint Kenyan Sceneries and people, it is not in doubt that her exhibition in Seoul in 2008 opened the eyes of many Koreans to the reality and beauty of Africa.

- By Mwaura Ndekere, Chairman of Kenya Arts Exhibitions Committee and lecturer of painting and ceramics at Kenyatta University