Kenyan Sculptor: Famed local artist celebrates culture, environment through work
Updated 19:41, 06-Aug-2019
Kenyan artist, John Diang'a, has played a crucial role in establishing visual art in the country. His towering structures can be seen in Kisumu. Now in his 70s, he has showcased his pieces in both Africa and abroad. And he's calling on younger artists to invest in developing their talent urging African governments to establish art hubs to celebrate the continent's rich culture.
He is a legacy that spans more than 5 decades. John Diang'a is a silent legend exploring expression in various art forms from painting to sculpting - both large and small pieces - to performing visual art on TV and on stage.
JOHN DIANG'A FOUNDER, PUNGULU PANGALA CULTURE CENTRE "Around 1971, I started exhibiting in Nairobi and other place but the journey began in 1968 of exposure to the outside world."
Like an art piece tells a story, John Diang'a has evolved in his use of various media - wood, clay, soap stone and now cement to bring forth the message.
JOHN DIANG'A FOUNDER, PUNGULU PANGALA CULTURE CENTRE "Cement will stay forever if you use it unlike clay and it is the most common material you can use now for sculptural activities."
Statements of history and social-cultural issues are erected in his delicately balanced eco-system of art and nature.
JOHN DIANG'A FOUNDER, PUNGULU PANGALA CULTURE CENTRE "She is capturing what is happening in this society today, and I did it particularly to caution the students around Maseno about early pregnancies."
And on the very delicate issue of gender equity, Diang'a captured the existing struggle in a towering insurmountable, almost 12ft, form naturally prompting a short discussion on the never ending topic.
JOHN DIANG'A FOUNDER, PUNGULU PANGALA CULTURE CENTRE "Pride emanates from the kind of pampering that we have given the girl child. We have also pampered them because we have told them, we have given a lot of support in terms of material in terms of money to the extent they live more comfortably than the boy child and he is saying please accept me back and this girl is saying 'kazi bure' you are wasting your time, if you look at her face she is looking away from the young man and he is drunk and this is what is happening to our society today."
He also celebrates a time past in African food culture.
JOHN DIANG'A FOUNDER, PUNGULU PANGALA CULTURE CENTRE "This is a grinding stone as it is and you would put your millet, maize was not easy because you would have to crack it down and then you grind it."
Diang'a looks back and celebrates his legacy with the hope to inspire the future generation.
JOHN DIANG'A FOUNDER, PUNGULU PANGALA CULTURE CENTRE "Like now am turning 74 am still matching on. My target is seriously target would be students upcoming children. They visit here and when they live they are fired-up. We need more of this kind of thing everywhere so that they can see what they can do and they can see what they can handle with their hands creatively it will help."
John Diang'a has created a universe documenting Kenya and Africa's journey through art in the hopes that this will remind that world of stories that were and that should not be forgotten. BERYL OORO, CGTN, KISUMU, KENYA.