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Kenya Art Scene

As interest in alternative cultures increases around the world, there has been a big rise in the popularity of African art. Various bodies have had to step up to the mark to cater for this increase in demand, from galleries and studios to art consultants and the media. Indeed, they all have important roles to play in highlighting and showcasing the artistic talent that is present across the African continent.

West Africa has always been a trail blazer when it comes to art, but other regions are catching up fast and not to be dismissed. Indeed, East Africa as a region commands its own avid following of art aficionados, drawn to its eclectic range of mediums and

styles of execution. Kenya is no exception.

There are several indicators that offer much optimism as to the state of art in Kenya. For example, art is included in the school syllabus and the purchase of art by Kenyan nationals is on the increase. In the past, art in Kenya was the preserve of the tourists, both at high end level and for the purchase of smaller replicas and artistic souvenirs. Nowadays though, there has been a break in this trend and Kenyans are not only appreciating the talent that is available to them locally, but actively supporting the country's art and artists by making


The art buzz that's present across the continent has had other important knock-on effects in Kenya. In parallel with the increase in art purchases, the platforms available to artists to showcase their talent are also on the increase, such as exhibition opportunities and even art auctions. The art scene in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, is made up of some well-established exhibition spaces and also a few newer names, and the same applies to the artists themselves with well-known names and some fresh faces.

Outside of the capital, the Kenyan coast also boasts a fair few exhibition spaces of its own. For example, there is the Lamu scene where artists and art lovers from around the world go to draw inspiration from the island's rich Middle Eastern culture and atmosphere.

There are events throughout the year at spaces such as the Kito Gallery in Shela (one of the islands that make up Lamu) or at the Seba studios found in Lamu Town.

However, it is the Diani Beach Art Gallery that is the real diamond in the crown of the coastal contemporary art scene in Kenya. Opened in September 2010, it is the first space of its kind in the region. The gallery is not only a commercial gallery but also a meeting space for artists, art lovers and patrons, with exhibition openings, art classes, workshops and even a residency programmes.

In an area that is best known for its award-winning white sandy beaches and breath-taking scenery, Diani Beach Art gallery has been promoting fine African art locally and internationally, and offering an alternative cultural experience that had hither to been missing: a taste of Africa with a difference. Now almost eight years' old, the gallery has represented over 70 exemplary artists from 20 different countries since its inception. Located over 3 separate exhibition spaces at the Diani Beach Shopping Centre, the gallery has plenty of room to showcase its impressive array of quality art pieces. The exhibition runs year round with frequent changes of theme to cater for all tastes. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, photographs and mixed media artworks.

As awareness of African art continues to grow, Diani Beach Art Gallery has become one of the area's 'must see' attractions as well as a cultural hub that sits perfectly in the area it proudly represents.

Much has been said of the Kenyan coast's beaches and culture. Kenyan art has now joined forces to further enhance the area's reputation and add some artistic value to one of the most scenic places on earth. When visiting, don't forget to fully immerse yourself in the Kenyan art scene.

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