When I look deep into nature and see all that God has created, I undoubtedly believe that he was the very first artist. For me what I do as a young artist is trying to interpret (copying) the artworks of the greatest artist (God). Because when he blessed me with this passion (vocation) of art. I believed He was giving me the right to interpret his artworks and I’m truly grateful for that blessing. The subjects of my paintings are mainly figurative (people) and nature (landscapes, flowers, and other plantations…). Due to spending more hours alone in my studio, mostly when I’m painting Portraits or other scenes that include people. I spiritually feel like I’m with those subjects because they look and feel alive to me.
When I look around and see the finished and progressed art pieces, the emotions and expressions of that works are what keep me from feeling lonely or giving up! Several things I realized about art. Art helps me transfer my emotions, understanding, and surroundings to the blank canvas. It allows me to see life from a different perspective and it makes me feel much more alive. Art has been an important part of human society since the beginning of time. Art has been a tool for cultural exchanges, education, and expression. I believe that the purpose of art in society includes remembering, self-understanding, hope, sorrow, growth, and appreciation.
My creative journey started way back when I was a kid, and since then it has been progressing day and night, which I’m grateful for. First and foremost, I classify myself as a contemporary artist engaged mostly in painting and I’m multidisciplinary because I don’t stick to a specific technique, style, or medium. As an artist, I like to experiment and play with different color pallets, textures, and other unusual materials to face new challenges. What I am usually trying to achieve with my craft, is to communicate messages through colors, textures, shapes, and forms. And it allows me to interpret in the best way the concepts that I have no words for. My artworks are based on the social life of my surroundings. Through my brushstrokes, I paint the diversity (variety) of my environment.
Romeo Niyigena chooses to work on social life because art is the best recording tool in history. He aspires to record various daily scenes of social life we go through daily. In the coming centuries, Hopefully, his artworks will serve as an information tool to show the people how their ancestors lived their life. The aesthetics concern of his artworks is based on the arrangement of the medium he uses, textures, newspapers collage, and brushstrokes of paints the topics. What motivates Romeo Niyigena the most is the continuity of his love and passion for art. Romeo Niyigena loves to progress to the point that he makes sure that his current project is better than the last one.
Welcomed to My creative process (Chronological methods I use to create an artwork).
- Idea for artworks(brainstorming).
- Arrangement of materials.
- Making the preliminary sketch for the subject(composition).
- Painting process.
- Putting finishing touches(details)on the canvas.
Step1. Idea for artworks.
The way I put on ideas depends on the project I’m working on whether it’s a single artwork, series, or an exhibition am planning.
Diversity and composition in my environment have been my big inspiration and with the help of the internet, I got to discover a lot of different cultures around the globe, especially in Africa.
Step2. Arrangement of materials.
After getting an idea and inspiration for his project, In addition, Romeo Niyigena starts thinking about materials that will be suitable for my project. He prefers to work on a flamed canvas throughout his whole project.
Some notes about his medium:
- Framed canvas.
- Paints and textures.
1. Framed canvas: I work on different formats either small, medium or large, depending on the project I am working on. I prefer rough canvas.
2. Paints and textures: for my color pallets I do like to use acrylics more than oils because acrylic paints dry faster and help me to create the textures and apply more layers to my paintings, I also do like their appearance. On my color palette, every artwork has it’s own depending on its expression, vibes, and story behind its existence.
Textures: for me, roughness and texture mean strength, energy, and being invincible. Textures create the energy and spirit of the painting.
3. Newspapers: The story and reasons behind using the newspapers are like presenting the true narratives about Africa. In Africa, some poor myths or proverbs’ wrong “If you want to hide something from Africans, hide it in the books” okay maybe that time but now we are breaking those myths. We write our own stories which are very interesting and inspirational. The newspapers I put on most of my paintings symbolize the true narratives we read, write and keep recording.
At my young age, the newspapers were our home wall decor, that aesthetic was our uniqueness in a whole village. As for now, me and my young brother we are artists. We changed them with art pieces on canvas, so I have a long story with newspapers that’s why they reflect in my artworks. I take a look at different newspapers if I find that the headlines match the story behind my artwork, I cut them and highlight them in some place on the canvas. In addition, newspapers help me catch the attention of my audience, I also take them as therapy for escaping anxiety because it keeps me busy by focusing and trying to read what’s written on it.
Step3. Starting the creation of the work (All progress).
1. Starting with the sketch (creating the composition) on canvas.
2. Creating textures and collage of newspapers:
When I start several projects(artworks) at the same time when I’m done with my painting session on an art piece. I use the remaining paints to create the textures of the next one with the palette knife. Even when I mix the paints and apply them on canvas when I no longer need to use them on that same painting I’m working on. I use them to create the textures of other works. Creating the textures with different colors remaining after realizing that the textures are enough. I paint monochromatic colors to recapture my composition well. Next, I start adding newspapers that I cut into my composition.
3. The painting process:
Of all the previous steps, this is the most exciting one because it’s the part where I figure out what the painting will come out of. On this step, it is like there are a few steps closer to the completion of my work. I usually enter my studio at 3 a.m. With slow music especially instrumental only (Without lyrics) sometimes spoken poems, interviews, and different documentaries about history and life stories of legends boost my mind and then stick to my creations. I start from the main concepts of my painting because it gives me an idea about how other elements and backgrounds will connect and I use different colors, forms, shapes, and textures to make my main concepts pop up.
- Start with the first layer of hydrated monochromatic paint especially the color content in the colors I’m planning to use.
- Start adding other colors to create the forms of my concept.
- After creating the forms and shapes of my concepts, I start using thick brushstrokes and adding more details needed.
Step4. Completion of the work.
To this point, after all the progress of my work, I have to put the last finishing touches and then finally name and describe my work. As you can’t give the names to the babies without seeing them and knowing their gender, you can know their gender while women are still pregnant, it’s similar to how I find titles and descriptions of my paintings at 80% of progress or less. After getting descriptions and titles, I contact my poetess to crave outstanding and enjoyable poems for the artworks, because every work goes with a story!
Romeo Niyigena is a visual artist. Born in 1999 in Kigali but raised in the southern province of Rwanda. He realized that Art was his vocation at an early age in Primary school. However, he had a strong desire to further his education in an Art school to hone his art skills and vision. After the ordinary level in 2016, the artist realized his dream when he was admitted to Ecole d’arts de Nyundo. Where he studied graphic arts at an advanced level and graduated in 2018. Since then, he has been pursuing an Art career daily. The Kigali-based artist specializes mostly in painting whether in oils or acrylics. However, he doesn’t stick to a specific style or medium as the artist likes to experiment and play with different color pallets, textures, and other unusual materials just to face new challenges.
For Romeo Niyigena, every Art piece he creates goes with a poetic expression and a unique story or meaning behind it. “GLORY TO MY BLACK SKIN”, his debut solo art exhibition explores the true significance of being in a black community. Not only visually appealing, but Romeo Niyigena art pieces also display a palpable luxury. These masterpieces speak a positive side story of black people specifically in Africa, his Motherland. His creations convey glorious stories about the black race that are far different from those they are usually subjected to and therefore he emphasizes how black people manage to achieve greatness and perfection regardless of the countless challenges they encounter. Being both black and African himself, this exhibition has a personal significance to Romeo, beyond his desire for artistic expression. Vision can be measured; however, perception and interpretations are very individualized personal experiences.