Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Exhibition: Recent Paintings by Michael Soi

The current exhibition at the French Cultural Centre running until the end of this month (September 2011) caught my eye first because of what it addressees (strip joints in Nairobi which are hardly talked about) and also because it contains some salient political undertones such as the issue of payment of taxes by our legislatures, the G7 alliance and the ‘nutty professor series’ which addresses the free primary education (FPE) scum.
Michael addresses international issues in sports such as the debate currently ongoing in France to have more white players playing for the Le Blue (the French National team). A rather bold piece if you look at the space where he is exhibiting (French space)!
Gor Mahia one of the teams which plays in the National Football league also features in the exhibition and so does Arsenal Football Club. Perhaps this is a reflection to the teams Soi supports.
The current works of Soi also address the current happening in the field of politics both in Kenya with a depiction of the G7 Alliance in the classical way Soi does it on canvas. Depicting politicians as with heads of cats and not wearing any trousers!
The geopolitics in Africa especially what is going on in Libya are addresses with a depiction of the 18th African heads of states session on Libya which watches as Gaddafi is hanged by outside forces (EU, NATO and USA).
The ICC process and court proceeding at the Hague have also been highlighted in canvas.

The ‘nutty professor series’ which highlights the professors heading the Ministry of Education in a whole new light you could possibly imagine is also on display. In fact this is the series that got me knowing about Soi. He had this series on display sometimes back at RaMoMa.
Strip Clubs
So this is the boldest piece of this exhibition and it showcases what happens in some joints in Nairobi when darkness falls. So as I understood it from a dialogue I had with Soi the ‘strip club series’ sheds light on the patrons who frequent this spaces 

Kuona Open Day
 I had an encounter with Michael in Naivasha during the Kuona Open day (as the exhibition clearly states he is a second generation artists from Kuona Art Gallery). This was like 2 weeks before he set up his exhibition at the French Cultural Centre (FCC).  He explained to me the thinking behind his works and also I came to know some of his collector’s esp. the ‘nutty professor series’.

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