Inzozi or Dreams in Kinyarwanda is the theme of Chadrack Ishimwe’s exhibition, which is not only a journey of his talent but also a great testament to how disability is not a physical limitation to human aspirations.
Ishimwe was born with a physical disability that forced him into a wheelchair. But the 24-year-old has turned his creativity into a passion.
“When I was in primary 1 class, I told my mother that I wanted to study art, and she responded by saying that I had to complete my formal schooling first,” Ishimwe said when I told him. visited the Indiba Art Space gallery where he was showing me around, adjusting the paintings on the walls to his satisfaction, before the exhibition launched.
The Kimihurura gallery organizes the exhibition in its space of three rooms.
With over 30 works on display – mostly acrylics on canvas – Inzozi is primarily a reflection on society and community.
The body of work includes figurative semi-abstracts of communal social activities.
One of the pieces titled “Resourceful” shows two children concentrating on something in the distance. One of the children aims with his catapult and the other is at ease, waiting. It’s a scene of hope backed by action.
Another, entitled “Chaos”, shows three children making funny faces, a typical character of happy children.
Represent the disability
Ishimwe is not afraid to show disability in his art.
One of these pieces, called “Guide”, shows two adults and a child wearing dark glasses walking with a white cane. It is obvious that they assist the child in his journey. This painting serves to reflect on the role that society plays towards people with disabilities.
“Courage” shows four boys on a football pitch. One of them, without arms, leads the game with the ball in his possession heading towards the goal.
Ishimwe’s first exhibition lives up to his vision of using art as a tool for social advocacy.
Inspired by Jean d’amour Manishimwe, Ishimwe studied at Gikondo-based Manishimwe Art Workshop in 2019.
The confinement linked to the pandemic did not interrupt his work.
“I was walking and spending the day there learning everything I could, which helped me learn because he (Manishimwe) was then fully available,” he adds.
Last year, Ishimwe worked on a painting project with support from the Kigali Goethe Institut. This prompted him to think about extending the concept to an exhibition.
Ishimwe now plans to take this exhibition to other art spaces beyond Rwanda.