Ikonya Warachi : “The figure doesn’t matter us much as the soul it possesses.”
Published Wednesday, July 29 2020 | Ikonya Warachi by theSystem
When did you discover art and what was the pivotal moment when you decided to be an artist?
I discovered art while i was still a little boy, growing up in Kiambu. It was my father who introduced me to art. I decided to be an Artist Three years ago… Professionally that is.
When you say professionally what does that mean for an Artist?
For me it simply means providing art as a commodity. Or using art as a means of providing income.
So for you commercial success means a lot, so how do you go about making sure that your work is commercially viable?
Yes it does.
Well it has been a learning process, it still is. Art for most of my life was simply a way of expression. So learning how to make it as you put it “commercially viable” has been my biggest challenge. I have learnt however that the finishing (packaging) matters alot. That is the one thing i was not aware of.
Talk to us about packaging what findings have you come across that will make your work more interesting?
Packaging in art is more about the framing. Investing in a good frame is really important. You can create a masterpiece or as many as you would like. However, if the framing is lacking (not flush, bad wood) you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone to buy. Actually, i would say that the framing is part of the artwork, it matters just as much.
You can also be creative with the framing and use recycled materials..
So in a sense the work doesn’t matter as much as the way its delivered?
For commercial success, in a way. It’s the framing that affects your artwork’s perceived value most.
What do you make of the Art industry in East Africa at the moment?
Promising. There’s a lot happening. The opportunities are there.
Could you expound on that?
Already, there are alot of galleries especially in Nairobi, that means that there’s some attention coming our way in terms of art. Artists such as Peterson Kamwathi are a testament to that. However, it still remains really tough for up and coming artists. A lot of effort needs to be done in teaching young artists the way the market works.
It’s not New York, but something is happening. That’s enough to keep dreams alive I’d say.
Where do you showcase your work , are you represented by an agency ?
Not yet. I use Facebook as my primary platform. I decided to build a community of sorts first before anything else.
Do you think agents and galleries matter now that Artists can build their own community and go DTC in this social media age?
They do and they don’t. It depends on the artist really. Where do you see yourself in a few years? What type of art do you do? Decorative? Fine art?
For someone like me, who dreams of museum walls and posh (sometimes pretentious) galleries in SoHo.. they do matter a lot.
What type of art do you do and where do you draw the line between decoration and meaningful art?
Traditionally, i am an expressionist and a bit of avant-garde-ist. Digitally, i am a digital expressionist, a pioneer in fact.
Art must be honest. Anything less than honest art is a manual print.
Tell us more about Digital expressionism and how you became one of the pioneers?
For me, digital expressionism is self expression with a digital medium. Would that make sense? It’s expressionism done in a digital device. phone, calculator, laptop…etc.
It started when lock down hit. Times were tough and i needed to create. So i started looking for new ways to create art. Then i started using Microsoft paint as an outlet. Digital art today is mostly about creating ultra realistic art, it needs something new.
Yes sure it does , In a few lines can you describe your process from start to finish?
Dreams then thoughts then ideas then creation (after a bit of procrastination)
What do the figures in your work mean? what is being represented?
The world, to me is just figures wandering around
Each to a destiny or a death. For me the figure doesn’t matter us much as the soul it possesses.
Does your work speak to a specific group and who do you think is interested in your produce?
I have come to realize that it speaks to anyone who gives it a chance. Interest is created, for now, anyone who is open minded.
Is it difficult to price your work and what formula do you use to arrive at these numbers?
At first it is. But then it gets easier. The formula is demand, production… I’d say it varies for each piece. Sometimes you feel too attached to an artwork.
Where do you work from?
From Home and at the studio in Juja.
What does an average day in the studio look like?
Fresh air, the highway, trees, writing and live sketches.
Yes you also write and do poetry , tell us about that and its relationship to your paintings?
Yes i do. Poetry is my first love really, it’s the favorite child. I am usually writing poems every second. So sometimes i think in poetry. Some of my artwork is born out of those poetic thoughts.
Could you indulge us in that process , the transition from lines to drawings?
Like this one, it came out of a poem called “To be a man” The poem talks about the hardships of being a man.
What are you studying , watching , reading or following at the moment?
At the moment, i have been rewatching seasons of Prison break, reading poetry from Sandburg and Bukowski, and following art.
What are your inspirations?
My thoughts, Music, other artists, poets, and film. Also long walks alone.
What are your aspirations and how do you see your brand evolve in the next 5 to 10 years?
My aspirations are artistic and poetic greatness.
In the next 5 to 10 years, I’d like to see my brand as something that shall define an exciting art movement. This is my prayer.
Sure are you working on anything at the moment ?
Yes. I am working on a poetry collection called A status of Affairs. I post the poems on a page with the same name. Check it out.
Sure will …. Which art movements have inspired you from the past and in the present, how and why?
The impressionists were the first rebels, they are what drew my eyes to fine art. The neo impressionists too (especially Van Gogh). Then the Fauves, the expressionists, Dada, futurists and Avant Garde expressionists. All because of their rebellion to traditional art.
Where does your perception about life come come from ?
Mostly from books, (philosophy, religion, fic, non-fic) from around, from experience. Even film and music.
In your own words what do you think art is for?
For expression and for reminding dreamers to dream.
What advice would you give to a person interested in getting into art as a career?
You will be disappointed a lot but that disappointment won’t hurt as much, you’ll be soothed by your work. It’s your work that keeps you going.