Patrick Ruganintwali is nothing short of a young, inspirational and extremely talented artist. The 26-year-old started art when he was a teenager and has steadily progressed since then.
“I was barely sixteen when I met art and my life has never been the same again. I now believe that art is essential in our lives,” he said.
One of Patrick’s greatest achievements is representing Rwanda in Germany during the 30th anniversary between Rwanda and Rheinland-Pfalz in 2012.
Q: When did you realise you could paint?
A: After my O’level in 2005, I took some of my samples to an art exhibition in Kigali. The artists that I met there seemed impressed with my work. Kofi Kankolongo, a renowned local artist encouraged me to keep painting. I have never looked back.
Q: What inspires your painting?
A: I trace my inspiration to my daily life. It all comes down to what I hear, feel, see and read.
Q: What are some of your greatest achievements?
A: Carrying the national flag during the 30th anniversary between Rwanda and Rheinland-Pfalz in 2012 in Germany was an unimaginable honour. I also had the opportunity to participate in different exhibitions in East Africa.
Q: Who sponsored the exhibition at Heaven Restaurant?
A: The restaurant sponsored my exhibition. I did the logistics and they gave me the space.
Q: Would you call the exhibition a success?
A: Every time an artist has an exhibition, they gain experience on so many levels. I had a fruitful interaction with the public and I made some good sales. Most importantly, I was given ideas on how to improve my paintings. So yes, it was a success.
Q: Are you working on anything new or do you have enough to exhibit for some time?
A: As an artist, I am always working on new paintings for future exhibitions. I create new things because I discover so much every passing day.
Q: Do you think Rwandans are interested in art?
A: Honestly, their interest in art is still low. However, there is steady improvement. We (joint artists) are working towards changing this.
Q: What are the main challenges in your field of work?
A: Most of the material that we use is not available locally. This means spending more to cover the transportation costs. Another challenge is the fact that most of our clients are people from outside Rwanda. In addition, there are very few exhibition spaces in Rwanda and most of them are really expensive.
Q: Who are your role models in the industry?
A: I love the work of artists like Leonard de Vinci and Bruce Clark. On the local scene, I like Kankolonko Kofi, EpaBinamungu, Collin Sekajugo, Antonio, Strong and Bakunzi among others.
Q: Is your family supportive of what you do?
A: They have always supported my work and I am very grateful to them.
Q: Do you think the government is doing enough to promote local artists?
A: The Rwandan government is currently constructing exhibition spaces. This is a step towards building the art industry. However, we would really appreciate more government involvement.
Q: What kind of involvement would you suggest?
A: The government should work hand in hand with artists in organising art events. They should also facilitate artists travels in case there are exhibitions taking place outside the country.
Q: Do you have a passion for other forms of art, like photography?
A: I love filmmaking and have a genuine interest in photography – I plan to venture into those one day. I simply love any form of creative art.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
A: Good question! I will be a big name in art, not only in Africa but globally.
Q: Have you considered networking with other artists in Africa?
A: This is something I am really trying to venture in. Currently, am using social sites especially Facebook, to get my art across.
Q: Do you run a blog or website to showcase your work?
A: Yes, I have a personal website: www.rugapatrick.com and there are other websites for our associations like www.uburangaartstudio.com and www.isookoweebry.com.
Q: Your best moments?
A: In 2010 while working with Centre Cesar, a centre for widows and orphans and in 2011 while spending a wonderful time with students at Green Hills Academy. For the first time I felt like I had left a positive impact on the community. It made me very proud!
Q: Do you have a message for artists out there?
A: Don’t give up!
By Joseph Njata, The New Times